New Delhi: Goa Governor BV Wanchoo has resigned, hours after he was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation today as a witness in connection with alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 helicopters meant for VVIP use from AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Indian defence manufacturer.
Mr Wanchoo, a retired IPS official who is considered close to the Gandhi family of the Congress, was the head of the Special Protection Group or the SPG, which protects the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their families. In that position he was involved in the selection of the helicopter.
A statement issued by the state Raj Bhawan later in the day confirmed that the CBI had recorded the governor's statement under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as "a witness" in the VVIP helicopter case. It said that Mr Wanchoo had volunteered to give his statement after the CBI came up with a formal request on June 24.
Mr Wanchoo became the governor of Goa in May, 2012. His tenure was scheduled to end in 2017, but after today's questioning by the CBI, he opted to resign from his post like the Governor of West Bengal MK Narayanan did last week after being questioned by the CBI in the same case. (After Questioning by CBI, Bengal Governor Resigns)
Mr Narayanan, a former National Security Advisor or NSA, was questioned as a witness on June 27 by the CBI. He resigned three days later.
The 3600-crore deal was signed in 2010. It was cancelled in January this year by India over allegations that kickbacks were paid by AgustaWestland and its parent company, Italian defence giant Finnmeccanica. (VVIP chopper scam: India cancels deal with AgustaWestland)
Mr Narayanan as NSA and Mr Wanchoo as the SPG chief attended meetings in 2005 where technical specifications were amended for the 12 helicopters that the government wanted to buy for the use of the Prime Minister and President among others. The changes ensured that AgustaWestland qualified for the contract.
The questioning of the Governors comes after a major legal battle over whether they are entitled to constitutional immunity from interrogation.
In March last year, the CBI registered a criminal case under India's anti-corruption laws and named Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland as targets of its probe.