Millennium Post

Aviaton scam: CBI arrests lobbyist Deepak Talwar, gets 7-day custody from court

New Delhi: The CBI Friday arrested corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in a Delhi court, which sent him to 7-day custodial interrogation in connection with an aviation scam being investigated by the agency.

According to the CBI, Talwar had acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making national carrier Air India give up profit making routes and timings.

The deals allegedly took place during the Congress -led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) regime at the Centre.

The agency took Talwar into custody inside the courtroom moments after Special Judge Anil Kumar Sisodia dismissed his anticipatory bail application.

Talwar, who was in judicial custody in a money laundering case related to the scam, was produced before the court in pursuance to a production warrant.

After arresting Talwar, the CBI sought his 14-day custodial interrogation from the court, saying his sustained interrogation was required to unearth the conspiracy.

The counsel for Talwar however opposed the CBI demand for custody, saying that he was already in jail and that the agency could quiz him as and when required.

The CBI said that it had to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured the foreign airlines.

After hearing the arguments, the court allowed the CBI to quiz Talwar in custody for a week.

According to the investigative agency, the officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation, NACIL, Air India, by abusing their official positions as public servants, in conspiracy with other public servants, private domestic and foreign airlines, made the national carrier gave up profit making routes and profit making timings of Air India in favour of national and international domestic and foreign private airlines.

This resulted in a huge loss of market share to the national carrier and also led to pecuniary benefits to private domestic and foreign airlines, it said.

It said that India held bilateral meetings with Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar after which there has been an increase in the seat entitlements for both the contracting countries and increase in points of call for foreign carriers.

The Indian carrier could not utilize its seat entitlement in the optimum capacity and despite a number of seats having been left unutilised, after every bilateral, seats were increased to benefit the foreign Airlines, the CBI said.

The CBI added that the foreign carriers have been given more points of call whereas Indian carrier has only one.

Further, the foreign airlines were exercising the benefits of 6th freedom traffic. It means they were carrying the traffics of the countries other than their own, it added.

In the money laundering case related to the scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that in lieu of the above, entities directly or indirectly controlled by Talwar have received exorbitant amounts from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia.

It had earlier submitted a chart of total USD 60.54 million received by the firms directly or indirectly owned by Talwar between April 23, 2008 to February 6, 2009.

Talwar was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department has charged him with tax evasion.

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