It has been close to 3 years Congress government ended its term and the skeletons in the closet keep out tumbling. Every now and then, a scam surfaces and upon investigation, it appears that the scam belongs to the UPA era which witnessed an innumerable number of scams worth more than Rs 12 lakh crore. The latest addition to the list of UPA scams is the Aircraft purchase scam by then aviation minister Praful Patel. Allegations of serious irregularities in purchase or hiring of 111 aircraft for Air India that had cost around Rs 70,000 crore during the tenure of Praful Patel as the civil aviation minister in 2005-06 have been made. Taking cognizance of the fact, Supreme Court has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to complete its investigation in the case by June 2017.

Another allegation on the aviation minister Praful Patel is irregularities in the purchase of biometric system for the airport security. As per the allegations, Praful Patel made Air India buy biometric systems for a whopping Rs 1000 crore, an amount which is too much to digest. “CBI shall take into consideration all the allegations made in the pleadings of the instant petition, and take a call thereon, based on the evidence collected. We hope and expect, that CBI will adhere to the time frame indicated to us, namely, June, 2017,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud said.

In its petition to the Supreme Court of India, the NGO CPIL had referred to several of Patel’s controversial decisions including the “massive” purchase of 111 aircraft for national airlines costing around Rs 70,000 crore. Among other decisions by Praful Patel which led to the poor health of the national carrier include taking a large number of planes on lease and giving up profit-making routes and timings in favour of private airlines, which appears was done with an ulterior motive. In its petition before the apex court, the NGO had alleged that the actions and decisions of the then civil aviation minister “ruined our national carriers, cost the national exchequer tens of thousands of crores and the only beneficiary of the above decisions were foreign aircraft manufacturers, private and foreign airlines. Thus the above actions were clearly made on extraneous considerations and resulted in pecuniary benefits to private companies, which is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” it had said.

The way new mega scams of Congress era keep on coming every now and then, only God knows how many more scams they indulged in during ten years of rule. There seem to be no end to the number of scams in the UPA era. There is hardly any union minister of UPA era who is free of major corruption charge.


Kshitij Mohan

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