The Central Bureau of Investigation was sitting on the Agusta Westland case since March 2013, when it lodged an FIR, and woke up only after the April 2016 Milan court of Appeal judgementon the matter. In 2013, the CBI lodged the FIR against former Air chief, S.P. Tyagi and questioned him five times in quick succession. However, the investigating agency went silent after that and interrogated Tyagi only after the Italian court verdict three years later. In the initial phase, the case was being handled by Saleem Ali, Special Director, CBI, until his retirement in November 2013. Ali was being supervised by his boss, CBI director Ranjit Sinha, who retired in December 2014.
“For over three years, they did not do anything. It was only after the judgement of the Italian court that they woke up from their slumber and interrogated Tyagi again,” a government source familiar with the development said.
According to sources, the information on the basis of which the CBI is questioning Tyagi now was available with the agency for more than two years but it did not do anything except sending the customary Letters Rogatory (LRs) to eight countries, but not before nine months had lapsed since the registration of the FIR. LRs in the case were sent by the agency to Italy, Tunisia, Mauritius in 2013 and UAE, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and British Virgin Islands in 2014.
Interestingly, the CBI has stated in the 2013 FIR that the conspiracy in the case took place between 2005 and 2010 while the facts on record state that the changes in the mandatory requirement for the purchase of the helicopter were being discussed even in 2003.
Officials say that it was the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which made progress in the case and registered a separate case against Tyagi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) despite no assistance being offered by the CBI.
The CBI’s inaction is further evident from the fact that it provided a copy of the FIR to the ED only after the latter repeatedly petitioned for the same for 10 months between March 2013 and December 2013. The ED, which can register a case at its level only after getting the FIR from the CBI or the police, could, therefore, register the case against Tyagi under PMLA only in July 2014.
The ED, which wanted to establish the money trail in the Agusta case, when it did not receive any assistance from CBI, sent letters rogatory to four countries including Italy in 2014. The ED had raised the issue of CBI’s non-assistance with the higher levels, too. The ED filed a charge-sheet in the case in November 2014.
“The information that the CBI is using to question Tyagi now, something that they could have done earlier, was developed and unearthed by the ED. It was the ED which filed the charge-sheet in the case in November 2014, while the CBI was still sleeping. Now they (CBI) are selectively leaking and feeding the information to a very close group of reporters to give the impression that it is they (CBI) who were following up the case all this time,” a source said.
Last week, a reporter with an English newspaper, who is not a part of this select group of reporters preferred by the CBI, was removed from a WhatsApp group created and administered by CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh after the reporter raised a question in the group about the anonymous letter that was sent by a CBI officer to his seniors alleging that the investigation in the coal scam was compromised as a huge amount of money had come to some CBI officers.