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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

From Today's Papers - 26 Feb 2013
Govt to confront Agusta with facts
VVIP copter deal: Italian firm says pay-off allegations mere speculation by media
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, February 25
Faced with an evasive reply from AgustaWestland to its show-cause notice, the Ministry of Defence will confront the helicopter maker with facts the CBI team and the MoD team have picked up from Italy.

The AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, has sent a three-page reply to the MoD’s show-cause notice served on February 15. It has tried to disassociate itself from the parent company by terming itself as a “separate legal entity”. It has termed all allegations of illegal pay-offs to the tune of Rs 350 crore as “media speculation”. It has denied any wrongdoing and goes on to say that there was no such evidence either. Suspension of payments was “not justified”, it has said.

The MoD had asked the firm to show-cause “why steps should not be initiated for cancellation of the contract (for the supply of 12 VVIP copters at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore) and recovery of all payments made by the MoD to AgustaWestland International Limited (AWIL)”.

The copter maker has posed questions to the MoD in its reply saying “allegations are in general terms, it (MoD’s show-cause notice) does not provide the source of those allegations and nor has any evidence been provided in this connection”. The reply submitted by Raymond Edwards, managing director of AgustaWestland UK ( copy with The Tribune) goes on to say: “The allegations in the show-cause notice appear to be based entirely on unsubstantiated news and other media reports. Furthermore there appear to be no such allegations against Agusta as the seller, which is a separate legal entity.”

Sources said the MoD had taken note of the reply and now it was awaiting a report from the CBI and the MoD team headed by a joint secretary. “The MoD will confront Agusta on facts, especially the arrest of Bruno Spagnolini, its CEO and the arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and with relevant papers which the CBI has obtained from prosecutors in Italy,” sources said.

One of the crucial evidences that the CBI has got from Italy is the warrant its prosecutors had submitted in the court. The warrant speaks about a meeting that took place in December 2005 at a small city Cascina Costa in Italy where a contract was signed between Guido Haschke’s company Gordian Services Tunisia and AgustaWestland’s Bruno Spagnolini.

The warrant says the investigators in Italy have found transactions of “amounts agreed by representatives of AgustaWestland ( Joseph Bears and Spagnolini) with intermediaries Guido Haschke Carlo Gerosa and Christian Michel, including bribes to be paid to public officials in India to fulfil their duties and in particular to manipulate the call for tenders”.

In its reply to the MoD notice, Agusta says: “Allegations against Spagnolini have not been tested in court.” The Agusta reply reminds the MoD that its actions are not in line with the contract. “The MoD has suspended the contract and all payments due to the AWIL. We submit that the MoD’s actions in this regard are not justified by the relevant circumstances or the terms of the contract …. Adverse media speculations cannot be proper grounds for cancellation of the contract.”


    Allegations contained in the show-cause notice appear to be based entirely on unsubstantiated news and media reports
    There appear to be no such allegations against Agusta as the seller, which is a separate legal entity
    The MoD's show-cause notice neither provide the source of allegations nor any evidence has been provided in this connection
Jawan to get pension 22 yrs after dismissal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
The Armed Forces Tribunal has quashed a 22-year-old order dismissing an Army jawan, who was reportedly undergoing psychiatric treatment, from service and granted him monetary relief.

In 1991, Ghan Shyam from the Regiment of Artillery was dismissed by a summary court martial and awarded six months of rigorous imprisonment for “having overstayed leave from September 1990 to May 1991 without sufficient cause”.

In his petition against his court martial sentence, the jawan stated that he had been posted to a field regiment in Bikaner, where due to harsh service conditions he suffered a mental breakdown and was downgraded to low medical category for psychiatric evaluation by a medical board in April 1990.

After a month, he was again sent to the Military Hospital, Delhi, for re-evaluation of medical category with a view to discharging him from service on grounds of medical disability.

He was granted 10-day casual leave in September 1990 but he fell seriously ill during the course of his leave and was treated at a government hospital. His family sent a telegram to his unit informing them of his sickness. In response, the unit instructed the petitioner to report to a military hospital, which, according to the petition, advised him to continue with his treatment at a civil hospital. After being declared fit to travel, the jawan reported to his unit but was not allowed to join. Instead he was told to report to the Artillery Centre at Nashik, where he was placed under arrest in May 1991.

In its order, the tribunal observed that the plea of guilt has necessarily got to be signed by the petitioner to give it authenticity. In this case, the signatures of the petitioner do not appear on the plea of guilt. It was, therefore, to be presumed that the petitioner did not plead guilty and the SCM proceedings should have been conducted on such premise.

The tribunal ruled that he will be entitled to pension and other such retirement benefits under the rules barring the salary.

had a breakdown

    In 1990, Ghan Shyam from the Regiment of Artillery suffered mental breakdown during his posting in Bikaner
    Was downgraded to low medical category for psychiatric evaluation by a medical board
    Was granted 10-day casual leave but failed to join work after falling seriously ill
    In 1991, summary court martial dismissed the jawan for overstaying leave without valid cause
Drug haul: Lt Col removed from MoD
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 25
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today asked the Indian Army to remove Lt Col Ajay Chaudhary from the post of the PRO Army, Imphal, following his arrest by the Manipur Police in an alleged drug haul.

The Lt Col was on deputation with the MoD. However, for matters of his pay pension and disciplinary actions, he was covered under the permanent establishment rules. Hence, he was drawing his pay from the Army. The MoD today asked the Military Secretary Branch that it would be untenable for him to carry on at the post of PRO Army.

Meanwhile, reports from Manipur said Lt Col Chaudhary and five others arrested for allegedly transporting illicit drugs estimated at over Rs 24 crore for smuggling to Myanmar were today remanded in the police custody till March 8.

Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thoubal, passed the order for the police custody of the six accused, following an application by investigating officer A Ghanashyam Sharma.

Cases have been filed against the accused under Sections 21 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act following the seizure of drugs at Pallel in Chandel district yesterday when they were headed in a convoy for the border town of Moreh.

Lt Col Chaudhury was arrested along with his assistant RK Babalu, IndiGo airlines assistant manager Ngairangbam Brojendro Singh, besides Haopu Haokip, Minthang Bongel and Milan Haokip.
Major involved in road accident to get war injury pension
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 25
The Delhi High Court has ordered payment of war injury pension to an army Major discharged from service after he had suffered 100 per cent permanent disability in a road accident in October 2000 during the deployment of forces for “Operation Rakshak III for flushing out the enemy forces after the Kargil War” of 1999.

The Pay and Accounts Office and the Armed Forces Tribunal had rejected Major Arvind Kumar Suhag’s plea for war injury pension, contending that his disability could be attributed only to the accident and not war.

Posted with the 402 Light Air Defence Regiment at Batalik, Ladakh, Suhag sustained the injuries while being moved from Batalik to Leh. He has been decorated with the Operation Vijay Medal and the Operation Vijay Star for his role in the Kargil War.

Suhag had claimed war injury pension, citing pension rules E (f), (i) and (j) dealing with “war like situations, including cases which are attributable to/aggravated by extremist acts, exploding mines etc while on way to an operational area and operations specially notified by the government from time to time.”

He had also contended that the Commanding Officer of the unit and the Adjutant General’s office had recommended war injury pension for him, but the Army authorities and the AFT did not accept it.

Describing the authorities’ reasoning as “deplorable,” a Bench comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudershan Kumar Misra said the sacrifices of army personnel should not be subjected to such “abstract rationalisation”.

“This court cannot resist observing that when individuals place their lives on peril in the line of duty, the sacrifices that they are called upon to make cannot ever be lost sight of through a process of abstract rationalisation. This case amply demonstrates how seven years after the (Kargil) conflict - in the thick of which the petitioner was deployed after having participated in the Kargil operation - his injuries were casually classified as those ordinarily suffered whilst proceeding on duty in a government vehicle,” the Bench ruled.

The HC ordered payment of the differential between the disability and war injury pensions within six weeks with 12 per cent interest since October 10, 2007 and also a litigation cost of Rs 50,000.


    Oct 23, 2000: Suffered 100% permanent disability in road accident during troops' movement
    March 19, 2005: Discharged from service, granted 100% disability pension, other retirement benefits
    April 3, 2012: AFT rejects claim for war injury pension
India's objectives in Myanmar
Time for a regional approach
by D. Suba Chandran

Besides Afghanistan, New Delhi has been extensively engaged in Myanmar in India's neighbourhood. Both the Foreign Ministry and the PMO have been forward-looking in these two countries. Besides the bilateral engagement with Myanmar, to achieve its long-term interest and also to stabilise Myanmar, this commentary recommends a regional approach. This complementary approach, involving Naypidaw's neighbours — Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh and even China — would help India achieve its primary objectives.

Two questions need to be addressed. What is the need for a regional approach if India is already engaged in a bilateral arrangement with Myanmar? And how can India pursue such an approach?

First question first, on the need for a regional approach in Myanmar for India. There is so much of an international focus on Myanmar, with a widespread expectation that the reforms process move forward and become irreversible. It is even more important that the reforms also expand to include economic and societal reforms, ultimately leading to a stable Myanmar — politically, economically and ethnically.

A stable Myanmar is in the interest of India, especially with regard to its renewed Look East strategy. A stable Myanmar is also in the interest of Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and even China, for the instability affects all these countries as has been seen in recent months. Consider the following events: the Rohingya unrest is spilling over into Bangladesh, Thailand and even Malaysia. Being stateless people, the Rohingya plight has been attracting substantial interest all over the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East. The statelessness, violence and the helplessness of the international community, is cornering a substantial space in the social media of these Muslim countries.

If left unattended, the Rohingya issue will become a Palestine of the east — becoming a cause and reason for alienation and anger among the Muslim youth. It is in the interest of the region and the rest of international community that the Rohingya issue does not become another rallying point for radical groups. With no basic skills, they can never become even economic migrants and will remain a huge burden on the host countries. Though Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia are facing the immediate brunt of migration and exodus, India will not remain unaffected. Though small in number, the Rohingyas have already reached India.

Besides the Rohingya issue, Myanmar is yet to reach an understanding with all the ethnic minorities: two groups, in particular, needs to be focussed — the Kachins and the Karens, bordering China and Thailand, respectively. The resumption of violence in the Kachin have brought China in, especially its Yunnan province. The headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army is close to the border and China is extremely apprehensive of any refugee inflow into Yunnan. Besides, there is a substantial Kachin population in China, and there has been a healthy interaction between the Kachins and the Chinese across the border.

While China may not want to cut off its relationship with the Kachins completely, for it has invested substantially in the Kachin State, Beijing will have to look into a larger relationship with Naypidaw which has been under strain in recent months. Thanks to the American pivot, international and regional interest and the new investments in Myanmar pouring from all over, Beijing is no more the sole guardian of that country. Some of the recent reversals of Chinese investments in Myanmar like the scrapping of Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy river and the local protests in Monywa and Mandalay against Chinese copper mining during the last two years highlight the growing faultlines.

More than its investments and its linkages with the Kachins, China will be more worried about its declining influence in Myanmar. How is China likely to respond? Will it be a positive response with attempts to compete with the rest, or will Beijing try to upset the balance in Myanmar? China will always remain crucial for the future stability of Myanmar; if it decides to negatively engage, the positive developments taking place today in Myanmar will suffer and become slow. International efforts should not aim at cornering China and make its presence irrelevant; rather it should be ensured that there is a healthy competition.

Thailand and Laos, two other countries which share the borders and rivers with Myanmar, also have substantial stakes, including migration, economic investments and infrastructural building. While political reforms within Myanmar are taking place at a faster pace, economic and financial reforms are way behind. If the current pace has to make Myanmar stable, there has to be an overall reform process. Poor infrastructure, presence of ethnic armies and the resulting migration, lack of adequate financial institutions and independent judiciary — all these factors will play a crucial role in ensuring success in regional and international investments. No country can ensure the above in Myanmar on its own.

India's investments in Sittwe port and dredging the Kaladan river should be seen in the above background. New Delhi may not able to achieve much on its own, in building the physical infrastructure in Myanmar, its financial reforms and the continuation of the political process. All these three are vital for New Delhi's political and economic investments — its third generation Look East policy and, more importantly, making Myanmar as the gateway to Southeast Asia.

A politically stable Myanmar, with adequate financial reforms, is in India's strategic interests. Can India achieve the above on its own? India will have to work with Myanmar's neighbours, to achieve its national and long-term interests. While there will be an element of competition, especially with China, this cannot be seen as an "either-or" option.

Now the second question — how can India ensure that there is a regional approach in realising its long-term interests in Myanmar? There are already a few initiatives in place, including the BIMSTEC and Kunming Initiative. India will have to complement the existing approaches through a comprehensive but Myanmar-centred strategy. India's Northeast should become the nucleus of this initiative, involving Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Laos and even China, especially the Yunnan province.

Perhaps, there is need for New Delhi to start a “Guwahati Initiative”, making the Northeast as the core of a complimentary approach along with its bilateral engagements with Myanmar. New Delhi is too far from the region and needs local stakeholders, especially in India's Northeast. This complimentary strategy should not be seen as New Delhi-led, rather Northeast-led. This will make the Northeast as the heart of the region and will help India in pursuing its foreign policy closer to Myanmar along with its neighbours. In fact, New Delhi should see Northeast-Myanmar Bangladesh-Thailand as one integrated region.

The above will also address two other primary problems of India; providing an outlet to its Northeast via Bangladesh and Sittwe, and in the process also bring Dhaka in.

The Guwahati Initiative should also have a strong component of the civil society besides being led primarily by the Northeastern states, with Delhi in the backdrop. Let there be an independent and open summit in Guwahati inviting the regional stakeholders of the above countries, to find a road-map for the future of this region. Perhaps, there may be new answers and constructive ideas in taking this process forward. Outside the car rallies and cultural programmes, there is so much that such an initiative could offer.

The Guwahati Initiative need not be an alternative approach, but a complementary one to the existing bilateral relationship between India and Myanmar. A politically and economically stable Myanmar, well integrated into both regions —South and Southeast Asia — is in everyone's interest. Especially India's. A regional approach may serve New Delhi's interest better, and as a growing power, India should accept this responsibility and deliver.
CBI probe in copter deal names ex-IAF chief Tyagi
His three cousins, seven others also under scanner
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 25
In possession of documents from Italy, the CBI today named former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi in its Preliminary Enquiry into allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.

Besides the former IAF chief, 10 others including his cousins — Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi — have also been named along with four companies in the Preliminary Enquiry, CBI sources said here.

Suspected European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschkhe, advocate Gautam Khaitan —formerly associated with Aeromatrix — and its CEO Praveen Bakshi, former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini have also been named.

“A PE is not registered without documents or without any basis”, said officials while adding that the firms named in the case are Finmeccanica, its subsidiary AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech Ltd. (India) and Aeromatrix India.

The PE, sources said, was ordered a day after the CBI team returned from Italy. The investigating agency has enough evidence to register the report. A senior officer of the CBI is still in the Italy to collect some other documents that may help in investigating the case and conducting raids.

In Italy, the CBI team met top officials of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica to know the details of kickbacks and other relevant details that have been submitted by the Italian investigating agency in court after the arrest of the Finmeccanica’s CEO. The CBI team got assistance from the Italian lawyers that had been hired by the Indian Embassy there. The lawyers did the liaison job with the authorities concerned there in probing the role of Indians in connection with the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,500 crore VVIP helicopter deal. The lawyers represented India's case with the Italian government and the local courts for getting evidence in the case.

Kickbacks to the tune of Rs 350 crore were allegedly paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, the sources said.

The CBI's decision to send a team to Italy came after it was discovered that not even a shred of evidence was found in India.

The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe in the case. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which, the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case, the sources said.

Enough evidence

  The CBI registered the Preliminary Enquiry to probe allegations that some “middlemen influenced the deal in favour” of Italian company AgustaWestland for the supply of 12 VVIP copters

  Its team that returned from Italy with some documents from Finmeccanica and the public prosecutor found enough material to start its probe in the alleged payoffs of `350 crore

  A senior CBI officer is still in Italy to collect papers that may help in the case and in conducting raids

Dubious distinction

  SP Tyagi (in pic) is the second former Services chief to figure in a CBI inquiry

  Naval ex-Chief Admiral Sushil Kumar was named in a CBI case of 2005-06 to probe “kickbacks” in purchase of Barak missiles
VVIP chopper scam: CBI seems to reject denials by ex-Air Force Chief SP Tyagi
The CBI, which is investigating allegations of kickbacks in a deal to buy 12 helicopters from Italy, has included former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi in its preliminary enquiry. That indicates the agency believes the charges against him, made first by Italian prosecutors, are not without merit. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The CBI has also named Indian companies IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, both based in Chandigarh, which were allegedly used along with their directors and senior executives to route bribes to India along with other firms in the UK, Mauritius and Tunisia. Gautam Khaitan, who retired as Director of Aeromatrix in October, and Praveen Bakshi, who was with IDS Infotech and moved to Aeromatrix as the CEO, will also be investigated by the CBI.

The enquiry in India has taken its lead so far from Italy, where prosecutors have arrested the former CEO of defence giant Finmeccanica for paying bribes at home and abroad. The Italians say that retired Air Chief Marshal Tyagi was among those who received kickbacks to ensure that Finmeccanica's helicopter division, AgustaWestland (AW), landed a deal in 2010 worth nearly Rs. 4,000 crore.
In his defence, Air Chief Marshal Tyagi has said the deal was signed three years after he completed his term.
But he was in office when the tender for the helicopters was revised, which allegedly facilitated the scam. Italian investigators say that the new conditions were virtually made-to-order to benefit AW.

CBI officials travelled to Italy last week and returned with documents that could serve as crucial evidence. The government has threatened to cancel the contract; in a letter, AW has said the deal must not be cancelled at this stage, when the investigation has just begun.
Hindustan Aeronautics to supply Indian army with 20 Cheetals
Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has signed a contract with India's defence ministry to supply 20 Cheetal helicopters, worth rupees 4.18 billion ($77 million).

HAL will deliver the helicopters and associated equipment over four years to the Indian army, and provide training to its pilots and technical crew, the company says.

The Cheetal is a re-engined variant of the Cheetah helicopter, powered by Safran's Turbomeca TM333-2M2 turboshaft engine. It has a range of up to 346nm (640km) with an endurance of up to 3.5h. It can also perform multiple roles such as personnel transport, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and aerial survey, logistic air support, rescue operations and carrying under-slung cargo loads.

In addition, the state-owned airframer has an initial order for 10 of the type from the Indian air force
Explosives defused outside Army base hospital in Delhi?
The bomb squad have successfully defused ‘explosive like material’ stuffed inside an abandoned laptop bag outisde the Army Research and Referral Hospital near Dhaula Kuan in South Delhi.

The Indian Army’s Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) had reached the spot where the bag was discovered. They say that only a forensic team can confirm if the substances inside the bag were actually explosives, but have admitted that it seemed to contain an ‘explosive like device’.

ANI News tweeted that a muffled explosion had been heard during the defusing of the bomb.

Certain circuits were also found inside the unclaimed laptop bag, reported CNN-IBN.

The entire area has been cordoned off and the Times Now television channel reported that a second abandoned bag had also been found in the Greater Kailash area.
A police control room (PCR) call was made at 2.50 pm regarding the abandoned bag.

According to Zee News reports, a youth threw a bag near the Army hospital this afternoon and fled on a bike.

Delhi was put on high alert yesterday in the wake of the recent twin blasts in Hyderabad that killed 16 people and left close to hundred others injured.

Heavy security has been deployed across busy markets and places like India Gate. All entry and exit points around India Gate have been blocked and almost all vehicles are being checked by police officials.

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