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CBI appears to be going slow in IACCS case

NewsCBI appears to be going slow in IACCS case

Investigators in the case are yet to question formally any of the named accused.

NEW DELHI: More than three months of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registering a First Information Report (FIR) against government employees and private individuals for their alleged role in the strategic Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) imbroglio, the investigators in the case are yet to question even formally any of the named accused.
It is pertinent to mention that even the CBI’s FIR in the case was filed only after the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). This was after the PMO was apprised by relevant individuals, how top officials of Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Defence, allowed the installation of allegedly inferior quality goods, gave defence tenders to unqualified vendors and then terminated the services of the three employees of BEL who had brought out these shortcomings in the open.
Furthermore, in a letter to the National Stock Exchange of India dated 28 December 2022, three weeks after the FIR was registered, BEL, since it is a listed company, had informed the NSE that no CBI raid had taken place at the agency’s headquarters in Bangalore and at its Ghaziabad unit, where a few of the named accused in the FIR are placed.
Sources aware of the matter told The Sunday Guardian that all the named serving BEL officials are still at the same position and no action against them has been taken despite the CBI naming them in its FIR.
These sources said that by not restricting the accessibility of these named officials to BEL offices, the BEL top offices were giving them the opportunity to meddle with crucial sensitive documents that the CBI would need if it had to take the investigation to its logical end.
The CBI spokesperson did not respond to The Sunday Guardian’s queries regarding the present status of the investigation in the alleged scam.
The CBI had filed the FIR in the case on 7 December against former BEL top officials including Sunil Kumar Sharma, R.K. Handa, S.S. Chowdhary, Gurjit Singh, B.P. Pahuja and Manish Goyal.
Apart from these BEL officials, the CBI had named private individuals including Suresh Kumar Anand, partner of a company named RD Konsultants, Sudhir Kumar Marwaha, Director of another company SR Ashok & Associates and Rahul Bhuchar who is the Director of CS Construction for their alleged role in the scam. All of them deny any wrongdoing.
The failure of the agency to take forward the investigation in this alleged scam that is of high-strategic value and related to ground sites at sensitive locations, is raising questions on why the agency was employing a leisurely approach in it.
The building of IACCS sites was initiated by the IAF in May 2011. These strategic IACCS sites (10 are planned across India) are being brought into existence to facilitate centralised command and control by automated integration of all air defence resources. For example, the Bengaluru node of IACCS that was inaugurated in 2019, is to handle the air operations of the entire Southern peninsula.
The private individuals, contractors, and owners of companies, who have been named in the FIR, from 2011 to 2017, in connivance with the BEL officials, siphoned off money that was allotted by Government of India (GOI) to build these IACCS sites. The total project is worth Rs 7,900 crore.
The alleged corruption in this matter of these strategic assets was revealed in July 2018, after the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of BEL started an investigation in the matter that was led by a three-member team led by Man Mohan Pandey, General Manager, which was in continuance of a factual inquiry that was conducted earlier by Arun Raheja, Assistant General Manager. Pandey had submitted his findings to BEL in October 2018.
In his 100-page report, he had written about how the top BEL officials bypassed every rule that is in place to ensure that the contract of building the said IACCS sites goes to only one company—RD Konsultants. As per the report, RD Konsultants was given the project on the basis of “DRDO recommendation”, a recommendation which was not even put in writing.
Two of the members that were in the BEL led committee that was formed to decide which company would get the contract were from the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO).
Those eager to ensure accountability in the matter want the CBI to take at least preliminary steps to find out the identity of these two DRDO officials, and thereafter question them.
While none of the named accused in the CVO ordered enquiry, who were also later named in the CBI FIR, have faced any official action, the three-member enquiry team led by Pandey, who identified these alleged corrupt officials, were terminated from service without any pensionary benefits and even their gratuity was not released. These three are now moving from one court to the other to seek reinstatement, even as their case has till now not come up for hearing.
According to one of employees from BEL, who was a close associate of Pandey, this “strict” approach taken by some in BEL against the three-member probe team may result in the officials being dissuaded from speaking up against suspected practices that they come across, under the fear that they too will be terminated from their job, lose out on all post-retirement benefits and moreover face a police probe, as these three are facing now.

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