‘No evidence of wrongdoing’: CBI closes UPA-era Air India aircraft leasing

New Delhi: The CBI has filed a closure report in its probe into the alleged irregularities in the leasing of aircraft by NACIL, a company formed by the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines during the UPA era, as there was no “evidence of any wrongdoing,” officials said Thursday.

The CBI, which had taken up the investigation in 2017 on the orders of the Supreme Court, filed the closure report before a special court recently.

The officials said other cases related to alleged irregularities in Air India, including the seat-sharing arrangement with private international airlines, are continuing.

The special court will decide whether to accept the report or direct the agency to probe further on the points the court may raise.

The case pertained to the allegations regarding irregularities in leasing a large number of aircraft by Air India which resulted in huge losses to the national carrier while private persons made pecuniary gains.

This leasing was done by the public servants of Ministry of Civil Aviation under minister Praful Patel and National Aviation Corporation of India Ltd. (NACIL) despite the airlines running with very low load because of large scale aircraft acquisition and several flights, especially overseas ones, running almost empty at a huge loss, the FIR had alleged.

The National Aviation Corporation of India Ltd. was formed after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

The agency has alleged that the decision was made “dishonestly,” and the aircraft were leased even while an acquisition program was going on.

The leasing decision was taken “in conspiracy with other unknown persons on extraneous considerations” that resulted in “pecuniary benefit” to private companies and consequent “loss to government exchequer,” the FIR had alleged.

The aircraft leasing decision in 2006 was taken despite overseas flights running almost empty at a huge loss, it had alleged.

“Air India, to benefit private parties, dry leased four Boeing 777s for a period of five years in 2006, whereas it was to get the delivery of its own aircraft from July, 2007 onwards. As a result, five Boeing 777s and five Boeing 737s were kept idle on the ground at an estimated loss of Rs 840 crores during the period of 2007-09,” the FIR had alleged.

Crime Today News | Hyderabad

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