Millennium Post

Will quash Jet-Etihad deal if convinced of irregularities: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday made it clear that it would quash the Jet-Etihad Airways deal if there are any irregularities in it. The apex court also issued notice to Centre and Income Tax Department on a plea seeking direction to the government to place the transcript of tapped telephonic conversation of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia in which she allegedly had talked about the civil aviation sector.

The court passed the order on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea seeking an order to quash the deal on grounds that it was against public interest as there was squandering of natural resources, ie sky and air space. At the outset, Swamy raised objection over Centre's non-filing of its response on his plea. Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran sought further four weeks' time to file the response and also raised the plea of maintainability by saying that earlier, a similar petition, questioning the Air Asia deal, was not entertained by the apex court and Swamy was rather asked to move the Delhi High Court.

'We have already issued the notice in this case after finding prima facie merits,' the bench said. The bench assured Swamy that his plea will be heard and the deal would be set aside if it is convinced that irregularities were there.
'If we are convinced then we would certainly set it aside,' the bench said giving last opportunity to the Centre to file the response and hoped that it would not seek any further adjournment in the case. Referring to Radia tapes, Swamy, in his application, said the documents are important for the adjudication of the case and the apex court had already ordered the CBI to probe the alleged involvement of middlemen in aviation sector which was revealed in the conversation.

'One of the issues, namely issue No. 7 deals with the touts and middlemen kickbacks arising from the bilateral agreements between India and foreign countries in civil aviation sector,' he said, adding that 'the documents are material to the adjudication of the grounds raised by him in the petition.'
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