SUPREME COURT REJECTS PLEA FOR PROBE AGAINST JET AIRWAYS CHIEF

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The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition which had sought a CBI probe into Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal’s alleged links with the underworld. The petition had alleged that Mr Goyal received huge amounts from the Gulf countries to fund acquisition of Air Sahara which has since been renamed into JetLite.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran refused to entertain the plea, stating that there was no evidence of such alleged connection.

Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Dr M Furquan, said the country’s largest private airline had links with the underworld. Stating that RAW had found evidence to this effect, he pressed for a probe into the charges.

He said RAW did not probe the matter despite a joint director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) writing a letter to the Union home ministry about the alleged links of Goyal with underworld dons Dawood and Shakeel.“The letter written in 2001 says that the black and extortion money of Dawood and Shakeel had been invested in the Jet Airways, and it needs a probe,” he said. According to him, “the IB had given reports that it had recorded a conversation among Goyal, Ibrahim and Shakeel, and it would not give such statements unless and until there is sufficient proof.”

Goyal’s counsel Harish Salve said the controversial aspect was examined and the government had already given a clean chit to him. The apex court’s decision brings to a close another chapter in the controversial allegations related to Jet Airways’ connections with the underworld. Earlier, a public interest litigation had been filed in the Bombay High Court, which did not entertain the case as the Central government said there was no evidence against Mr Goyal.

“There is no evidence of any links of Goyal with the underworld,” additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Centre. It was first reported that the Centre was of the view that the allegations against Mr Goyal were not substantiated.

Mr Subramanium said the controversial letter was written in 2001, charging Mr Goyal with money laundering and contacts with Indian underworld dons based in the Gulf. However in 2006, a clean chit was given to Mr Goyal. Hence no prima facie case exists against the Jet chief, submitted Mr Subramanium.

The petitioner had approached the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed the PIL against Mr Goyal. Jet Airways is the largest private sector airline in India, operating in international sectors like the UK and the US, apart from the domestic circuit. Air Sahara now operates as a fully-owned subsidiary of Jet, using the JetLite brand to offer no-frills service while the parent company operates a network of carriers.

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