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India sets up body to probe chopper scam
Publication Date : 28-02-2013
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government nearly lost the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal bribery debate in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) yesterday, but for the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe it finally got approved by the House to investigate the bribery charges.
Large sections of the opposition, led by its leader, Arun Jaitley, staged a walk-out when the motion for setting up the 30-MP body to monitor the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the bribery charges, was taken up for voice vote.
After a comprehensive critique of the government’s “helpless” attitude and half-hearted follow-up steps in the scam in spite of the information in the public domain, Jaitley rejected the JPC offer, saying a committee of MPs could not be effective in the situation.
The Indian “bribe-takers” in the deal could be brought to book only through “coercive criminal procedures” like arrests, searches, raids and interrogation, he said. After a newspaper report on the bribe-payments in February last year, Jaitley said, the government should have registered a report to get the details. “You waited a year and just two days ago ordered a preliminary inquiry,” he said.
Moving the JPC motion, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath, said the same opposition had not allowed one session of the Lok Sabha (Lower House) to run demanding JPC for the 2G scam. “Why is it running away from the JPC now?” he asked.
Earlier, defence minister A K Antony said the government had nothing to hide and there will be “no cover up”. He said the government was determined to go to the root of the scam. Revealing that he had thought of quitting after the scam broke, he promised the strongest action if evidence points to wrongdoing. “We have to go to the root of the scam and punish the culprits because every pie that the government spends comes from tax payers. Whoever swindled public money, they have to be booked, they have to pay the price,” he said.
Nath said the JPC will have 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha.