THE DETAILS that have emerged from the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in connection with the recruitment scam at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 2012, highlighting the level of corruption in the premier tri-services training establishment of India, is like opening a Pandora’s box.
From bottles of expensive Scotch whiskey given as kickbacks along with bribe money; favourable officers being posted on recruitment committee by handwritten orders and the complicity of a long chain of persons from a cycle repairer to the then Commandant of the NDA in the alleged recruitment scam — these are some of the startling revelations that came to the fore when The Indian Express got access to the chargesheet on Monday that was filed on December 28, 2015 by the CBI.
In June 2012, the CBI had unearthed a scam in the recruitment of Class C employees and had then arrested Col Kulbir Singh, who was staff officer to the then Commandant Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, and then Physical Training Officer (PTO) Col AK Singh, besides a civilian staffer of the academy and five others who acted as ‘agents.’ Lt Gen Singh was transferred in a month’s time after the CBI wrote to the Defence Ministry, seeking the same to facilitate an ‘unbiased probe.’ In September 2012, Lt Gen Singh, now retired, was grilled by the CBI for two days.
On December 28 last year, over three-and-a-half years after the initial action, the CBI filed a chargesheet against Col Kulbir Singh for entering into criminal conspiracy with Col AK Singh, the then Commandant Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, the then Establishment Officer of NDA Suhas Waghmare, groundsman Bhagwan More, Sub Major Vasant Aajmane, cycle repairer Ramesh Gaikwad, a staffer at CAFVD Khadki Dattatraya Shitkal, then store keeper Ordnance Depot, Dehu Road, Manoj Shitkal and civilians Balkishan Kanolia, Vishnu Sharma and Pankaj Sharma.
The chargesheet says, “Col Kulbir Singh in criminal conspiracy with the other co-accused persons, promised appointments to candidates appearing for the recruitment of 97 posts Group C employees in NDA in return for an illegal gratification of Rs 3.5 lakh per candidate. He, accordingly, received illegal gratifications from the candidates through other co-accused persons, which was subsequently recovered by CBI— this amounted to Rs 82 lakh on his own disclosure and Rs 4.8 lakh during searches from his residence.” According to the CBI, Rs 1.76 crore were recovered from the searches conducted at houses of various people involved.
The CBI probe reveals that based on information given by Col Kulbir Singh, an amount of Rs four lakh and 12 bottles of Black Label Whiskey were recovered from the house of the brother of co-accused, Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, which was out of the illegal gratifications collected by him, states the chargesheet. CBI sources said that the brother was handed over these bottles and cash in a posh hotel in Mumbai.
What further corroborates the role of Lt Gen Singh in the scam is a Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) test conducted on him. “The test confirms that he was aware of the malpractice in NDA and obtained Rs 30 lakh from Col Kulbir Singh as his share of illegal gratification. He was also aware of the complaints of corruption in NDA against Col Kulbir Singh.” the chargesheet states.
The Indian Express has reported in the past that most of the candidates who paid the bribe money were from Khadakwasla, where NDA is located, and the surrounding villages. These people were tapped by the arrested civilians, who acted as middlemen. The cycle repairer, groundsman and other staffers held by the CBI also acted as middlemen as they knew the local candidates. CBI had tapped hundreds of phone calls between the people named in the chargesheet, which further strengthens its theory. Many candidates were asked by the accused persons to leave their answer sheets blank and expect a call letter subsequently.
The recruitment could never be completed as CBI initiated its action and this was followed by arrests. The CBI had got the list of candidates who had paid up from the a pen drive seized from AK Singh. The candidates had told the CBI that they had paid these agents as candidates knew them personally or got introduced to them through someone else. The chargesheet states, “CBI probe had found that Col AK Singh, in order to destroy the evidence, got some documents burnt, deleted data from his computer and concealed his laptop and pen drive.”
In another revelation, chargesheet states that for the recruitment process, the name of the naval officer posted in NDA, Commander Noor Mohammed, who was then heading the Naval Training Team, was proposed to act as Presiding Officer of Board of Officers. “It was changed by co-accused Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, in his handwriting, and in his place, accused Col A K Singh, was appointed as the Presiding Officer of the concerned Board. Thus, Col AK Singh was very much in a position to manipulate the recruitment process.” states the chargesheet.
A press statement issued by the CBI about the chargesheet states, “The public is reminded that the findings are based on the investigation done by CBI and evidence collected by it. Under the Indian Law, the accused are presumed to be innocent till their guilt is finally established after a fair trial.”
1. Col Kulbir Singh in criminal conspiracy with other co-accused persons, promised appointments to candidates appearing for the recruitment of 97 posts Group C employees in NDA in return for an illegal gratification of Rs 3.5 lakh per candidate.
2. He, accordingly, received illegal gratifications from the candidates, which the CBI recovered, amounting to Rs 82 lakh on his own disclosure and Rs 4.8 lakh during searches from his residence.
3. An amount of Rs four lakh and 12 bottles of Black Label whiskey were recovered from the house of the brother of co-accused, Lt Gen Jatinder Singh.
4. Col AK Singh, in order to destroy the evidence, got some documents burnt, deleted data from his computer and concealed his laptop and pen drive.
5. For the recruitment process, the name of the naval officer posted in NDA, Commander Noor Mohammed, who was then heading the Naval Training Team, was proposed to act as Presiding Officer of Board of Officers, was changed by co-accused Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, in his handwriting and in his place, accused Col A K Singh, was appointed as the Presiding Officer of the concerned Board.
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