Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has been asked to appear before Enforcement Directorate (ED) on June 11 for questioning in the Deepak Talwar aviation deals case. The senior NCP leader skipped the summons to appear before the ED on Thursday as he asked for more time to appear before the agency.
The ED had earlier alleged that arrested aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar was in regular touch with Praful Patel while acting as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines which caused losses to national carrier Air India.
The ED sources said Praful Patel needs to be put through revelations made by Talwar and evidence unearthed by the agency in pursuit of this case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Sources say that the probe agency is in possession of crucial emails implicating Praful Patel.
Meanwhile, on being summoned, Praful Patel had said that he will be happy to cooperate with the ED so that it understands the 'complexities' of the aviation industry.
In May, the Enforcement Directorate had revealed that Praful Patel was under investigation in connection with the case against aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar. The agency also said that Deepak Talwar was a 'dear friend' of Praful Patel.
The ED said it was in possession of e-mail communications between Deepak Talwar and Praful Patel which implicates the former aviation minister.
The agency, in its charge sheet against Deepak Talwar and his son Aditya Talwar, had also named Praful Patel. A non-bailable warrant was issued against Aditya Talwar.
Investigation in Airline Seat Allotment Scam was initiated by ED in August 2017 on the basis of FIR registered by CBI against officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, NACIL, Air India and unknown private persons.
To avoid scrutiny, Deepak Talwar had fled the country. However, he was deported by the immigration authority of Dubai on January 31 this year and was subsequently arrested by ED.
"Investigation revealed that Deepak Talwar has been engaged in liaison and lobbying with politicians, ministers (Praful Patel and another civil aviation minister, other public servants and officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation for Emirates, Air Arabia and Qatar for securing undue benefits for them. He illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of the national carrier, Air India," an ED officer had said.
According to ED, the investigation had also revealed that in lieu of securing favourable traffic rights, these airlines made payments to the tune of Rs 272 crore to Deepak Talwar during 2008-09.