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Govt refers 23 Kargil deals to CBI

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 13, 2005 20:52 IST
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The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court it was referring 23 more Kargil deals, including the casket purchase scam, entered into during the tenure of National Democratic Alliance leader George Fernandes as defence minister, to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

It also promised 'strict action' against Fernandes if he was found guilty.

This comes in the wake of the embarrassment it had to face after a recent affidavit filed by it gave the impression that it had given a clean chit to Fernandes.

Thereafter, the Centre had clarified that no clean chit had been given to him and that a revised affidavit was being filed in the apex court.

The CBI, already probing the purchase of hand-held thermal imagers and terminally-guided munitions (Krasnapol) after the Tehelka expose, will also look into the purchase of special ammunition worth Rs 166.44 crore and spares worth Rs 97.65 crore for 155mm guns and special clothing and mountaineering equipment worth Rs 95.15 crore.

"The government is committed to taking strict action against officials/authorities, including the former defence minister, if it is found that the excuse of Kargil war was taken to make the purchases with a motive of personal benefit in violation of rules and regulations," the defence ministry affidavit said.

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which went into the 123 deals during and after the Kargil war, had found irregularities in 25, resulting in an alleged loss of Rs 2,000 crore to the exchequer, it said. While the CBI is already probing two of these deals, the remaining 23 will also be referred to the agency, the Centre added.

While giving the list of 20 purchases with details, the affidavit said the 'other three cases, including the purchase of ammunition for T-72 tanks and aluminium caskets, are also being referred to the CBI for investigation.

"The CAG report has noted that modified procurement procedure was used to push through deals in the name of Kargil long after the hostilities had ceased, and if the deals were to be scrutinised in normal circumstances, these would not have been entered into, thereby, suggesting serious misconduct on the part of officials/authorities in the government, including the then defence minister," the affidavit said.

"The government is now exploring whether the facts reveal a prima facie case of commission of criminal offences under law, as heavy financial losses in excess of Rs 2,000 crore (as per the CAG Report) were caused, in addition to the fact that the equipment did not materialise in the time of its need," the ministry said.

However, in its earlier affidavit, the government had said there was no violation of any financial rules of the government or the Defence Procurement Procedures, 1992, and that the modified procedures issued on June 21, 1999 were not to substitute or supersede the prescribed procedures for normal procurement action.

The modified procedures were meant only to 'telescope' the time frame, particularly for imports, that had become critical keeping in view the intensity of 'Operation Vijay' and unpredictability of the situation during the period for which the operation had lasted, it had said.

The court had issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation filed by K G Dhananjay Chauhan alleging that irregularities in the Kargil scam caused a loss of Rs 2,175 crore to the national exchequer.

Reacting to the fresh affidavit, Fernandes said he was prepared to face it.

"I have not read what they (Centre) have filed. But I am prepared for it," Fernandes told reporters on the sidelines of a farmers' meeting in Sarangpur on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

"Let them do anything against me. I am prepared for anything. For me political vindictiveness is not new. Those against me have always tried to suppress me since my Emergency days. It does not affect me."


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