SC Gets Cracking on Corporate Litigants
Taking a cue from A-G’s suggestion to impose costs on corporates, CJI TS Thakur on Friday asked BCCI, Star TV and three telcos to deposit .₹ 1.5 crore before it adjudicates on a dispute over cricket alerts. ED in connection with its probe into money laundering charges related to the case.
Further, CBI is actively considering whether to invoke the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The defence ministry is expected to make a fresh complaint as many of its documents marked ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ were recovered during the Italian probe and now find mention in the order.
A CBI spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
As the political mudslinging has intensified over the affair, those accused of involvement have included top Congress leaders such as Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel, who’ve denied any wrongdoing.
The plan, according to top sources in the government, is to go beyond just the existing first information report (FIR) filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and look at other legal violations. OSA, by that measure, could prove to be more stringent.
“The ministry is in touch with investigative agencies to speed up the probe. All possible assistance is being given to agencies investigating the probe (to) identify the guilty,” a senior ministry official said without sharing details. Among the thousands of documents that were shared by Italian prosecutors in the Agusta case, there were several references to Indian military programmes that the Italian company was interested in. These documents included internal specifications drawn up by air headquarters for the VVIP chopper deal as well as details of another project to acquire light utility choppers for which Agusta was a contender. One of the documents was a draft trial evaluation report of the rival Sikorsky S92 helicopter that was the only contender for the VVIP chopper deal along with AgustaWestland’s AW101 helicopter. This top secret document, investigators suspect, may have been leaked by senior officers who were part of the process. In 2013, CBI wrote to the defence ministry, asking it to authenticate the recovered documents, which it did.