Pranab dragged into chopper deal row, but enjoys immunity

The Ministry of Defence has reportedly named President Pranab Mukherjee as one of the key decision makers in connection with the ordering of 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland. The Ministry has said that the deal was ratified in 2005 when Mukherjee was defence minister.

AP

AP

The UPA fact sheet, which seeks to show that the specifications of the deal were changed during the NDA regime, also names two governors - former SPG chief Bharat Vir Wanchoo and MK Narayanan, who along with Mukherjee were key decision makers with regards to finalising the deal.

However, given that he is President, Mukherjee enjoys immunity from prosecution in a criminal case.

The SPG chief at the time Bharat Vir Wanchoo is now the Governor of Goa. MK Narayanan, who was the National Security Advisor at the time, is now the Governor of West Bengal. Both by virtue of their governor-status enjoy immunity under the constitutional rules.

Former Air force chief SP Tyagi who has been named in an Italian investigation report as being one of the beneficiaries of kickbacks to secure the defence deal for AgustaWestland, also said that the specifications of the contract had been changed in 2003, when the NDA was in power.

BJP leader Jaswant Singh confirmed that this had been done, but said that the changing of specifications in itself was not a crime.

"The problem was not with changing the specifications. The problem was the corruption that followed", Singh said in comments to the media.

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