The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned senior NCP leader and former aviation minister Praful Patel for questioning on June 6 in connection with an alleged United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-era aviation scam.
Patel has been asked to appear before the investigating officer of the case next week as part of its money laundering case related to alleged multi-crore aviation scam that is stated to have taken place during the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh, news agency PTI quoted ED officials as saying this.
The ED claimed in the charge sheet that aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar, who has been arrested, was in regular touch with former aviation minister Patel while acting as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing huge losses to state-owned carrier Air India.
Officials sources reportedly said Patel needs to be put through certain revelations made by Talwar and certain evidence revealed by the investigating agency in pursuit of this case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Meanwhile, Patel, a member of the Rajya Sabha, said that he will be happy to cooperate with the ED so that the agency understands the "complexities" of the aviation industry.
"The matter pertains to bilateral agreements for exchange of flying rights between two governments where any private individual has no role to play. Traffic rights to foreign airlines is granted by their respective countries and not by Government of India. Flying rights or "Seat Entitlements" are equal for both the respective countries. This policy has been in practice for the past 60 years or more till date irrespective of any government," he said.
Referring to the CAG report on the issue, he said, "The liberalised policy towards bilateral entitlements benefitted the Indian traveler considerably in terms of choices and lower tariffs. Moreover the CAG report does not point out any loss incurred by the exchequer and has not indicted any government functionaries or pointed out any lacunae in the process."
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar