Former Union Minister P Chidambaram has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate, reportedly in connection with the aviation scam involving Air India. According to reports, ED officials on Monday issued summons to the Congress leader. He is expected to record his statement on Friday, August 23 before the investigating officer in New Delhi. The summons to the Rajya Sabha MP come days after former Civil Aviation Minister was grilled by the CBI in connection with the case. He was previously questioned by the ED in June this year.
The alleged scam relates to a number of irregularities with regard to the national carrier, including the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines and the use of profitable routes by foreign airlines among others. In October last year, the ED registered multiple cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The cases are based on FIRs previously registered by the CBI.
The CBI has reportedly stated that the purchase and leasing of aircrafts and the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines had taken place amidst irregularities. The purchase of 43 passenger planes had reportedly resulted in a Rs 1,000 crore profit for a Europe-based aviation firm. Some of the multiple cases filed by the ED and CBI also related to the alleged surrendering of 'profit-making' airline routes and timetables of Air India to private airlines which again had caused 'huge' losses. An aviation lobbyist named Deepak Talwar, who was arrested by the ED is alleged to have helped secure favourable traffic rights for private airlines during the UPA years between 2004 and 2011. According to one report, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Indigo, Spicejet and Paramount Airways were given plum routes on the domestic front while Air India reportedly reduced its services along Mumbai-Dubai, Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Doha.
Earlier the ED has also quizzed former Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with the same case. The ED officials questioned Patel on matters related to granting air traffic rights to foreign carriers and purchase of 111 aircrafts for the national air carrier.
Chidambaram is also facing probe in the Aircel-Maxis and INX Media cases.