New Delhi: Scams and corruption from the UPA era refuses to die out even after five years have passed since the fall of the Congress-led UPA government. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued summons to then Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, for questioning in a procurement of 111 aircrafts worth Rs. 70,000 crores. He must appear on 6 June before the agency.
ED has alleged irregularities in the purchase of aircrafts, leasing of planes and giving away profit making routes by the Air India during UPA rule. The ED probe is under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on FIRs registered by CBI under Supreme Court directive in 2017.
In 2005, the erstwhile Indian Airlines made a deal with Airbus for supply of 43 aircrafts and with Boeing to acquire 68 more aircrafts. The total deal amounted to Rs. 70,000. However, the agency unearthed certain evidences regarding the deal. Moreover, arrested aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar has also revealed to the ED about his relation with the then Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel.
Deepak Talwar was in direct connection with Praful Patel, while he was acting as middleman in negotiations with foreign private airlines which caused loss to Air India.
Reports say quoting an ED officer, “Investigation revealed that Deepak Talwar has been engaged in liasoning and lobbying with politicians, ministers (Praful Patel and another civil aviation minister, other public servants and officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation for Emirates, Air Arabia and Qatar for securing undue benefits for them. He illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of the national carrier, Air India.”
These airlines are alleged to have paid Rs. 272 crores during 2008-2009 for his services. Though, Deepak Talwar fled the country to avoid Indian legal system, he was deported by immigration authority of Dubai on 31 January and subsequently arrested by the ED.
The ED has recently filed a charge sheet against Deepak Talwar in the case.
Reacting to the ED summons, Praful Patel said, “Will be happy to cooperate with the ED for their understanding of complexities of aviation industry.”