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  India   All India  11 Mar 2017  Agusta deal: Supreme Court no to probe on media role

Agusta deal: Supreme Court no to probe on media role

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Mar 11, 2017, 1:30 am IST
Updated : Mar 11, 2017, 6:16 am IST

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed another petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan for a probe into Augusta chopper deal.

The Supreme Court
 The Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a petition for a probe into the media’s role in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

Dismissing a petition filed by Hari Jaisingh, former editor-in-chief of Tribune, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A.M. Kanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouder observed “Media has rights within constitutional boundary. Media is independent in our democracy Freedom of media can’t be curtailed. We can’t direct CBI to probe contract between two parities abroad. If CBI finds something, it will catch them. We can’t entertain this petition.”

In his writ petition, Hari Jaisingh, former editor-in-chief of Tribune, sought a direction for a probe relating to National Security and instances of corruption among certain members of the Indian Press. He said as per Italian Investigative Report, it was admitted in the Milan Court of Appeals decision, “the amounts agreed between AgustaWestland representatives Giuseppe Orsi and Spagnolini Bruno, with the mediators Haschke Guido, Gerosa Carlo and Christian Michel were also inclusive of bribes to be paid to Indian Public Officials to perform deeds which were against their office duties and in particular to manipulate the tender regarding the acquisition of the above mentioned helicopters.”

It was also mentioned about the role of Christian Michel that Rs 217 crores approximately (Euros 30 Million) was allocated to him by Giuseppe Orsi (the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland) and Bruno Spaglioni (the CEO of AgustaWestland) for the purpose of managing different officials in India. Of this sum, 6 Million Euros (approximately 50 crores) were set aside specifically to “manage the Indian Media.”

He said this allegation was also reported extensively in the Indian Media and stood corroborated by the existence of an Agreement between AgustaWestland and Christian Michel, for the express purpose of managing “hostile press activities that might impact the execution of the contract.” Hence he wanted a direction for a thorough probe and a direction to disclose the amounts paid to the media and whether taxes were paid on this amount.

Meanwhile Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed another petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan for a probe into Augusta chopper deal. He said petitioner is an unregistered organisation and has applied to the Election Commission of India for registration as a political party called ‘Swaraj India’ “When an issue takes the colour of political nature or a political protagonist approaches the court in the guise of a PIL to settle political scores, it loses the character of public interest litigation,” he told the bench. The Bench said it will hear the matter in April and lay down a law whether political parties can file a PIL to espouse a public cause.

Tags: supreme court, agustawestland, freedom of media
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi