NEW DELHI: The record of Defence Minister A K Antony at the helm of affairs in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reflects his penchant for ordering probe at the drop of a hat. This year alone, he has ordered nearly 10 inquiries.
According to Ministry sources, Antony receives 25 complaints daily on an average alleging malpractices in the ongoing acquisitions.
Recently, he ordered a CBI probe against BEML chief V R S Natarajan after a two-year internal inquiry prima facie indicated financial irregularities on his part in the purchase and delivery of Tatra trucks to the Indian Army.
The first probe ordered by the Ministry this year was into the purchase of 12 helicopters for the VVIP Communication Squadrons of IAF from Italian firm AugustaWestland after an Italian newspaper reported about the Rome authorities conducting an inquiry into the 2010 deal.
The deal for 126 French-made Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft also hit a rough patch when former MP Mysora Reddy wrote a letter to Antony alleging the contract process had unduly favoured the planemaker.
Sources suggest that the probe report is ready and awaits Antony’s approval. The other deals bearing the brunt of these probes are the procurement of 197 light utility helicopters and M-777 ultra-light howitzers.
The biggest blow to the procurements has been the ban of six Defence firms for the next 10 years after a probe ordered by Antony confirmed wrongdoings.
In the words of Antony: “When I got complaints regarding certain procurements which were at their final stage, I made quiet inquiries and I found that something was wrong. I then cancelled a majority of such deals.”