Aviation scam: Lobbyist Deepak Talwar sent to judicial custody

A Delhi court Friday sent corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar to judicial custody in connection with an aviation scam which allegedly led to losses for Air India. Special Judge Arvind Kumar sent Talwar to jail after CBI produced him before court on expiry of his custodial interrogation. CBI told the court that accused was not required for further interrogation. The agency had on July 26 taken Talwar into custody inside the courtroom, moments after the judge dismissed his anticipatory bail application. Talwar, who was in judicial custody in a money laundering case related to the scam, was on July 26 produced before the court in pursuance to a production warrant. According to the agency, Talwar had acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making national carrier Air India give up profit making routes and timings. Also read: The CBI had earlier told the court that it had to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured the foreign airlines. According to the investigative agency, these officials, in conspiracy with other public servants, private domestic and foreign airlines, made Air India give up profit making routes and timings. This resulted in a huge loss of market share to the national carrier and led to pecuniary benefits to private domestic and foreign airlines, it said. It said India held bilateral meetings with Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar after which there has been an increase in the seat entitlements for both the contracting countries and increase in points of call for foreign carriers. Air India could not utilise its seat entitlement in the optimum capacity and despite a number of seats having been left unutilised, after every bilateral, seats were increased to benefit the foreign Airlines, CBI said. The foreign carriers have been given more points of call whereas Indian carrier has only one, it added. Further, the foreign airlines were exercising the benefits of 6th freedom traffic. It means they were carrying the traffics of the countries other than their own, it added. In the money laundering case related to the scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that in lieu of the above, entities directly or indirectly controlled by Talwar have received exorbitant amounts from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia. It had earlier submitted a chart of total USD 60.54 million received by the firms directly or indirectly owned by Talwar between April 23, 2008 to February 6, 2009. Talwar was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department has charged him with tax evasion.