M A I N   N E W S

JPC to probe copter deal; NDA walks out
Panel to have 10 RS, 20 LS members
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, February 27
Amid a walkout by the BJP-led NDA and some other Opposition parties, the Rajya Sabha today adopted by a voice vote a motion to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into the allegations of illegal pay-offs in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.

Moving the motion, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the JPC would have 10 members from the Rajya Sabha and 20 from the Lok Sabha.

He named seven of the members on the panel from the Upper House and said three others would be appointed by the Chairman of the House. Those named are: Renuka Chowdhury, JD Seelam and Birender Singh (all Cong), YP Trivedi (NCP), Satish Mishra (BSP), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) and T K Rangarajan (CPM).

The minister said the Upper House would send a request to the Lok Sabha to name its members on the committee as early as possible. The JPC would submit its report within three months of its first sitting.

Before the main Opposition party staged a walkout, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley charged the government with adopting diversionary tactic by constituting the JPC. “What you need to do is a proper investigation. The JPC has no custodial power...it will be an exercise in futility,” he added. Some other parties like the JD (U), an ally of the BJP in the NDA, Trinamool Congress and the AGP also walked out of the House.

Earlier, defending the measures taken by the government to bring to book those involved in corruption in the deal, Defence Minister AK Antony asserted that ‘stringent action’ would be taken against those who violated the integrity pact in the contract. “We are determined to get to the root of the scam. Those found guilty will have to pay a price...no mercy will be shown to anyone.”

He said he felt ashamed whenever a controversy surrounding his ministry surfaced. Also, an impression was gaining ground that the scam would hit the modernisation process of the armed forces. “Whatever happens in this particular case, there will be no compromise with the security of the country and the modernisation will progress at a steady pace.”

Disclosing details about the controversial deal, Antony said the process of acquisition started nearly eleven years ago. At all stages, proper procedures were followed. It was also clearly spelt out that if any foul play was noticed, the government would come out of the contract invoking the provisions of the integrity pact.

He said a preliminary enquiry on the allegation of bribery was being conducted in Italy. The government had also ordered a CBI probe.

A CBI team had recently visited Italy and recommended probe against four companies and six Indians.

He said the government was not running away from its responsibility and was, therefore, willing to order a JPC probe, in addition to the investigations being carried out by Italy and the CBI. The government has already served a show cause notice to AgustaWestland, asking why the contract should not be cancelled.

“I want to punish the guilty. The government is fully backing me...my party is fully backing me,” he said as Congress members thumped the benches.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |