On Tuesday the Supreme Court accepted a plea seeking investigation into alleged bribery received by many prominent journalists from the Indian media in the Agusta Westaland scam. The petition said that many media houses had received huge pay-offs from the Italian company AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica to publish news in favour of the multi-million Agusta Westland Chopper deal.
The bench consisting of Justices Dipak Misra and Arun Mishra agreed to hear the PIL filed by Hari Jaisingh who is a noted writer and journalist seeking a court monitored investigation against those journalists who have said to have received bribe in the Agusta Westland scam. Hari Jaisingh also demanded that the SC should intervene in the ongoing investigation of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate and direct them to provide the details of the media houses who have received pay off’s to promote the VVIP chopper deal through fake media reporting.
Hearing Mr. Jaisingh’s plea, the Supreme Court had instructed him to provide the copies of his petition to CBI and ED. In the year 2013, the CAG had presented a report in Parliament which said huge flaws were made going against the Defence Procurement Procedure Rules (DPPR) 2006 to award Rs.3,727 crore contract for the purchase of the 12 helicopters. The petitioner has specifically quoted that many journalist from lutyens circle and veteran scribe have been involved in taking huge bribe in the VVIP chopper deal which needs to be investigated. He also sought SC to give direction to the central government to release the affidavits and financial disclosure of the media houses who received money and hospitality from both domestic and international defense firms.
He also pointed that there was a deliberate leak of information from the defense ministry during the UPA government which facilitated the wrong doers in finalizing the massive deal and “it is therefore crucial to note that such active nexus between the so-called agents of defence dealings with journalists should be scrutinised by this Honourable Court”.
Jaisingh said that a journalist is akin to a public servant and hence they are answerable to the people of the country like any other government official and there should be no exception.
He gave the records that how Christian Michel was given Rs. 217 crore, by Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spaglioni the CEO of AgustaWestland for managing government officials in India. Out of which, Rs 50 crores was kept aside only to manage media. In the year 2013, the Finmeccanica firm had invited a group of journalists from Indian media bearing all expenses for a meeting in Italy. Christian Micheal is said to have striked a deal with these media houses to speak in favour of Agusta Westland.
He quoted that respondent No 3(ED) was investigating one of the journalist who was receiving hospitality from the Finmeccanica and Agusta Westland in the year 2015 and the reports needs to be made public so the public gets to know who was the journalist and media house which was involved in the massive Agusta Westland scam.