The government has sought a fresh legal opinion from Attorney-General of India Mukul Rohatgi, on whether serving Governors can be questioned by an investigating agency.
The opinion was sought in relation to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s intention to question two serving Governors as witnesses in relation to the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal scam.
Law Ministry sources said Mr. Rohatgi is ready with his opinion and will communicate it to the government soon.
The Ministry earlier denied permission to the CBI on the grounds that West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan and Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo enjoy Constitutional immunity.
Former Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran had, in his opinion, warned against questioning of serving Governors until they relinquish their Constitutional posts. The CBI had then gone on to clarify that it merely needs the statements of Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Wanchoo as witnesses.
Mr. Narayanan, as the then National Security Adviser and Mr. Wanchoo, as the Special Protection Group chief, had allegedly attended a meeting in 2005 in which the tender specifications for procurement of VVIP helicopters were “tweaked.”
The CBI has alleged that during his tenure, former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi approved reduction of the service ceiling of VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, a relaxation that allowed AgustaWestland to qualify for the tender.
Alleging that middlemen were hired and bribes paid on the pretext of engineering contracts to swing the deal in the company’s favour, the agency has named the retired Air Chief Marshal, his three cousins and several others in the case.