CBI asks NDA to hold own inquiry into ‘irregularities’ in computer purchase

The premier tri-services training institute of the country, had in in 2010-11, purchased over 2,100 Thin Client computers for its cadets.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | Published: February 19, 2016 3:09 am

THE NATIONAL Defence Academy (NDA) is conducting a departmental inquiry, as recommended by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of 2,100 Thin Client computers in 2010-11 for the cadets.

The premier tri-services training institute of the country, had in in 2010-11, purchased over 2,100 Thin Client computers for its cadets. A naval officer, then posted at the academy, Lt Commander Sowjanya Sree, who was the whistleblower in the case, had alleged that there were irregularities in the procurement.

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Lt Cdr Sowjanya had alleged that payments were made to a firm without the completion of the assigned work of designing an intranet website. In an even more serious allegation, she had said that payments amounting to Rs 50 lakh as kickback were made.

A Court of Inquiry (CoI) presided over by an officer of the rank of Colonel was ordered. The CoI recorded the statements of Lt Cdr Sowjanya along with those alleged to have been involved in the ‘irregularity’ — a woman officer and her husband. The statements of witnesses — a lower division clerk, a store keeper and representatives of private companies — were also taken. The accused denied wrongdoings ‘on record’ and were later posted elsewhere.

At the same time, the CBI also probed the case. However, it did not find anything ‘prosecutable’ after its investigation. A senior officer from the CBI who did not wish to be named said, “The CBI team has completed the probe and has recommended to the NDA that they probe the issue at the departmental level and take actions against those who were involved.” A senior officer from the NDA told The Indian Express, “A committee headed by an officer of Colonel rank has started the inquiry into the alleged irregularities. The committee will record the statements of the various people who were involved in the process of procurement.”

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  1. R
    Feb 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm
    Purchases in the Defence Establishments are made through five to seven quotations from the registered suppliers. The military suppliers are neither sellers nor stockists or distributors. They are just 'Jugadus ' who are ready to supply from a pin to plane. He gets the rates from the open market, adds his profit margin which may range from 10 % - 100 %. No question is raised. The lowest quotation is accepted and the Supply Order is issued. The military authorities do not even bother to find out the actual price of the particular item. If they know the actual price and price quoted varies that leaves a space for having more stake in the booty. Military authorities are not supposed to procure items directly from the manufacturers. The contractors register firms without ascertaining their veracity. One contractor register his 8-10 firms under different names and with fake addresses. He submits quotations and one of his quotation is found to be lowest in the Comparative Statement and gets Supply Order. Genuine dealers are reluctant to get themselves registered as the payment is inordinately dela and at times it is as difficult as milking the bull. The payment authority, the Controller Of Defence Accounts is another Bhool Bhullaiya which do not act unless hands greased by the contractors. The entire process is done so meticulously that there is hardly any flaw or procedural mistake to be caught in the audit or the inquiry board. Every time the Board of Officers is involved in opening quotations, preparing comparative statement and inspection of the items received from the supplier for correct quany and quality as per specifications in quotations and are taken on charge only after that. In inquiry if the board of officers go to the supplier, they would not find him or all other firms who submitted quotations because he does not have any office at the address. He again registers under different names.