Praful Patel quizzed for 8 hours in aviation scam case; to again appear before ED tomorrow

Former Civil Aviation Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel was questioned for nearly eight hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Monday in connection with an alleged multi-crore airline seat allotment scam during the United Progressive Alliance government.

Patel refused to answer media queries on what transpired at the ED office.

He was called by the agency to appear at its office here on Tuesday for questioning over his alleged involvement in awarding favourable air traffic rights to foreign airlines that caused losses to Air India.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was earlier summoned to appear on Thursday but he had sought another date due to "prior commitments."

The name of Patel, who was the civil aviation minister between 2004 and 2011, came up in the alleged scam in a chargesheet filed by the ED against corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar on March 30.

The agency in its charge sheet had said that Deepak Talwar, who is currently in judicial custody, allegedly acted as a middleman to favour foreign private airlines, causing huge loss to the national carrier.

It also said that Talwar was in regular touch with the former Aviation Minister.

"Talwar finalised various communications on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia to be addressed to the then Minister of Civil Aviation Praful Patel," Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) DP Singh, appearing for the agency, had told Special CBI Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj on May 1.

Talwar allegedly received payments to the tune of Rs 272 crore during 2008-09 by these international airlines in lieu of securing favourable traffic rights.

Talwar was extradited from Dubai on January 30.