Senior NCP leader Praful Patel, summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged UPA-era aviation scam, on June 1 said he would be happy to cooperate with the agency to help it "understand the complexities of the aviation sector".
The ED has asked Patel, who was the civil aviation minister in the UPA government, to appear on June 6 as part of its money-laundering probe related to alleged losses suffered by national carrier Air India in an alleged multi-crore aviation scam.
"(I am) Happy to cooperate with the Enforcement Directorate to help them understand the complexities of the aviation sector," Patel, a Rajya Sabha member, said in a statement here.
"The matter pertains to bilateral agreements for exchange of flying rights between two governments where any private individual has no role to play," he said.
"Traffic rights to foreign airlines are granted by their respective countries and not by government of India. Flying rights or 'seat entitlements' are equal for both the respective countries. This policy has been in practice for the past 60 years or more till date irrespective of any government," he added.
"Further this issue has been examined in great detail by the CAG which says the liberalised policy towards bilateral entitlements benefited the Indian traveller considerably in terms of choices and lower tariffs," he said further.
"Moreover, the CAG report does not point out any loss incurred by the exchequer and has not indicted any government functionaries or pointed out any lacunae in the process," the NCP leader said.
According to official sources, the ED wanted to confront Patel with certain revelations made by arrested aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar.
The agency had recently filed a charge sheet in the case naming Talwar, claiming he was was in regular touch with Patel.
According to the charge sheet, Talwar obtained favourable traffic rights for private airlines during 2008-09 at the cost Air India.