Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

Whistleblower alleged kickbacks, favours in ‘thin client’ procurement; NDA never completed inquiry

Newsline reported the matter on July 4, 2013. Newsline reported the matter on July 4, 2013.
Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Pune | Posted: April 23, 2014 6:20 am

Lieutenant Commander Gutta Sowjanya Sree had gone around the NDA recording statements of people involved in the procurement of 2,100 ‘thin clients’ (customised laptops) within the NDA in the year 2010. The academy, based on her allegations, had constituted a Court of Inquiry (CoI) on April 11, 2011.

Newsline reported the matter on July 4,  2013.

The CoI said the “alleged irregularities in the procurement, receipt, issue and accounting of IT stationery at MIS cell, including the receipt of any illegal considerations”, pertained to procurement of 2,100 laptops for NDA cadets and procurement of 155 desktops and printer cartridges for the academy. The CoI had recorded the statements of whistleblower Lt Cdr Gutta along with those of the accused — a woman officer of Major rank, her husband — and witnesses (a lower division clerk, a stores keeper and representatives of private companies — software majors — who supplied the said items to the NDA).

The serious allegations investigated by the CoI involved waiving of liquidated damage (LD) of Rs 20 lakh to a software giant despite a delay in the delivery of laptops by more than seven weeks. “Thin clients started coming in the first week of December 2010 and the delivery of all the items was completed in January 2011, but opening board was held on November 15, 2010, and acceptance test procedures (ATP) board was assembled on November 26, 2010.”

The whistleblower had also alleged on record that payments were made to a firm without the completion of the assigned work — designing of intranet website. The more serious allegation involved payment of around Rs 50 lakh as kickback from “all the files”. The CoI, presided over by an officer of Colonel rank, had also recorded statements pertaining to irregularities regarding procuring refilled printer cartridges in the NDA in 2010-11, when as per rules, used cartridges had to be destroyed. “After an earlier CoI, non-accountability of cartridges of up to Rs 10 lakh had come out,” the whistleblower had noted.

All the accused denied wrongdoings “on record” and have been posted out.

In July 2013, an RTI application filed by The Indian Express had revealed that the NDA never brought the CoI to its logical conclusion. The reply said the proceedings were never forwarded to the HQ, Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), NDA’s Delhi bosses.

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