"They (AgustaWestland) have violated the contract. We have taken steps to protect our interests," he said when asked about the final show cause notice issued to the firm by the Defence Ministry.

He said that the government has to move as per the law and now, the final show cause notice has been served. “We have given them 21 days to reply to it,” he said.

The Defence Ministry had issued a final show cause notice to AgustaWestland for violating the terms of the contract on October 21 and asked the Anglo Italian firm to explain why "all or any action as prescribed, including cancellation of the contract, should not be taken against them for violating the terms of the pre-integrity pact and the contract for procurement of 12 VVIP choppers."

The Attorney General has already given his opinion to the Defence Ministry that there was breach of contractual obligations and the integrity pact by the firm, they said.

The government has already frozen the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF after allegations that Rs 360 crore were paid as bribe in which two top officials of the company were accused.

Asked if issues between HAL and Dassault Aviation were delaying the multi-billion dollar multirole combat aircraft project, the Defence Minister said, "That is not the issue. The issue is that contractual negotiations are going on. Government cannot interfere in that process."

He said, “There were several layers of scrutiny, there were four-five mechanisms for its scrutiny and how can I set a deadline for it. The process is on and how can I set a deadline."

(Agencies)

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