What is the Rs 70,000-crore Air India scam about

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New Delhi, Jan 6: The Central Bureau of Investigation will submit its report on the Rs 70,000 crore scam in the purchase of aircrafts by Air India during the UPA-1 rule by June 2017. The Supreme Court on Thursday, while ordering a probe, directed the CBI to complete investigations by June.

The bench made a serious note of the allegations and said that it would not grant more time to the CBI, since the FIR was lodged in 2013. After the allegations about irregularities in the purchase and hiring of aircrafts by Air India surfaced, the comptroller and auditor general had given a report in which it had questioned the modus operandi adopted by the civil aviation ministry.

Air India

It was alleged that there were irregularities in the purchase of 111 aircrafts for Air India that had cost around Rs 70,000 crore. The purchase was made when Patel was the civil aviation minister.

The petitioner, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had also referred to Patel's decisions, including the 'massive' purchase of 111 aircraft for national airlines costing about Rs 70,000 crore, taking a large number of planes on lease, giving up profit-making routes and timings in favour of private airlines and the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

The CBI has already examined 55 witnesses so far. An empowered group of minister under the then finance, law and civil aviation minister was constituted in December 2005 and held discussions with Boeing and GE. A note signed by the finance minister had been sent for approval to the then prime mInister for placing orders for 68 aircrafts with Boeing. It was said that the complete delivery would take place by 2011.

The petitioner alleged in the court that there was already irregularity in the purchase of of biometric system for Air India at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore. It was also alleged that a Canadian court had already found that bribes had been paid in bagging the contracts for the biometric system by Air India. In additio, the allocation of lucrative routes to private airliners as the cost of Air India was also questioned by the petitioner.

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