The office of the Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG) of the Headquarters Southern Command has pulled up the National Defence Academy (NDA) for allowing a private firm, which was recommended by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for blacklisting, to participate in a tender process in June this year. The firm was named in a major clothing scam unearthed by the CBI in 2014 at the academy, in which a former Commandant of the NDA was one of the accused.
The DJAG of HQ Southern Command has now told the NDA to put the recommendations of the CBI before the “competent” authority, and let it decide whether the firm should be blacklisted. “In its report dated September 2, 2016, CBI … has recommended that M/S Kapoor and Co, Khadakwasla, may be blacklisted for the reasons mentioned therein.
The said letter was forwarded to the NDA in the first week of January 2017. However, for the reasons not discernible… no action was initiated or taken on the … recommendations of the CBI. As a result, M/S Kapoor and Co participated in the tender bids called by the academy on June 20, 2017. Suffice to say, any enlisted vendor who participates in the tender process, will be prospective vendor, unless ‘blacklisted’ by competent authority,” the DJAG said in its letter.
“Adverting to the way forward, the CBI report mentioned above may be placed before the authority, competent to blacklist an enlisted vendor, and the said authority may, after following the due procedure, prescribed for blacklisting a vendor, pass suitable orders, based on the merits of the case,” the DJAG directed. Sources said that the June 2017 tender was related to the procurement of various paraphernalia of a cadet’s uniform.
The case of corruption pertaining to the purchase of branded clothing for the cadets in 2011, which was registered in 2014, is currently being probed by the CBI. In that case, former commandant of the NDA, Lt Gen Jatinder Singh (Retd), and four others, including Army officers, are accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy, cheating and misusing official position in the award of a contract to a private supplier, which is based in Khadakwasla and has a shop on the NDA campus.
As per the probe of the CBI, the contract awarded in 2011 had resulted in loss of Rs 4.5 crore to the exchequer. The CBI had started the probe based on an audit conducted by the office of the Principal Director of Audit, Defence Services, Pune. In the procurement of the clothing, extremely substandard clothes were fraudulently passed off as branded ones to the cadets.
Lt Gen Singh and his then staff officer, Col Kulbir Singh, R K Gupta, the then senior defence accounts officer in the office of Principal Director of Audit, Defence Services, Pune, are accused of securing monetary advantage and bribery in the process. Another NDA official, Lt Col K Subramanian, who was at the time assistant quarter master general (QMG) at the academy, was alleged to have facilitated bribes for Gupta through the private contractor named in the case by the CBI.
The FIR or Regular Case (RC), as it is called in the CBI parlance, was registered in March 2014, naming these suspects and the contracted firm M/S Kapoor and Co for offences under IPC 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) read with sections of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988.
In reply to questions from The Indian Express seeking to know why the vendor was not blacklisted as recommended by the CBI, the NDA said the recommendations were “being” complied with. “Blacklisting of any registered vendor by the National Defence Academy (NDA) is as per the provisions of Defence Procurement Manual 2009. NDA is ensuring complete transparency and financial probity in all its purchases. All procedures are in place and are being followed in letter and spirit for strict compliance of recommendations of the CBI,” the NDA said.