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Chopper quiz plan for MK

New Delhi, May 18 (PTI): The CBI has clarified to the law ministry that it wants to question Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan and his Goa counterpart B.V. Wanchoo as “witnesses” in its probe into the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.

The ministry, after initially denying permission, had asked the agency about its motive for looking to quiz the duo who enjoy constitutional immunity.

The CBI had then written to President Pranab Mukherjee, the appointing authority for the governors. But recently, the ministry again wrote to the agency asking it to explain its position on examining Narayanan and Wanchoo, official sources said.

In its reply, the CBI said it wanted to record their statements as witnesses as Narayanan was then national security adviser and Wanchoo the head of the Special Protection Group (SPG), which guards the Prime Minister and some other VVIPs.

The agency has said that Wanchoo and Narayanan had participated in the 2005 meeting that allowed key changes in technical specifications for the chopper contract.

The agency claims the parameters were changed in a manner that enabled AgustaWestland to clinch the deal against competitor Sikorsky.

The CBI is probing the alleged payment of bribes in the deal, which was scrapped by the government last year.

The sources said the agency had made it clear that the two constitutional functionaries would be approached only as witnesses.