CBI plans to send a team to record Goa Guv’s statement

Central Bureau of Investigation is planning to send a team of its officers to record the statement of Goa Governor B V Wanchoo ‘as a witness’ in connection with its probe in the VVIP helicopter purchase deal.

Sources in the probe agency said it was necessary to question Wanchoo, who had been chief of elite Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the prime minister before he was appointed as Governor of Goa.

CBI sources said they would be recording the statement of Wanchoo ‘as a witness for now’ as he had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications.

The agency had sent a proposal to the law ministry for recording the statement of Wanchoo and West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan who was the National Security Adviser at that time.

The Law Ministry declined permission saying the two were in constitutional posts which gave them immunity from prosecution under Article 361 of the constitution, prompting the agency to approach the Presidential Secretariat for permission.

CBI had sought permission to record their statements as part of its probe into the alleged Rs 360-crore bribe in the deal that was scrapped by the government in December last year.

The agency has put the investigation in this case on a fast track and questioned several bureaucrats including former Cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi and Comptroller and Auditor General Shashikant Sharma who was the then defence secretary.

CBI claims the parameters regarding the height at which the helicopters can fly as also the flight evaluation were changed in a manner that enabled AgustaWestland to clinch the deal vis-a-vis its competitor Sikorsky.

Earlier last month, former Secretary (Security) at the Cabinet Secretariat Sudhir Kumar, former Inspector General SPG N Ramachandran, who retired as DGP Meghalaya, and former special secretary (Acquisition) in the defence ministry HC Gupta were examined by the agency as part of its probe.

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