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Rs 1,762 Crore Kargil Purchase Scam Buried By UPA?

More than 10 years after Kargil war, the stink of corruption in purchases of arms and ammunition worth Rs 1,762 crore appears to have been a false alarm, reports The Times of India. After years
PTI May 13, 2010 8:59 IST
PTI
More than 10 years after Kargil war, the stink of corruption in purchases of arms and ammunition worth Rs 1,762 crore appears to have been a false alarm, reports The Times of India.

After years of investigation, the ministry of defence has said that it has now agreed to close most of the cases except two — Thermally Guided Munition (TGM) purchases worth Rs 151 crore and aluminum caskets for Rs 6.55 crore ― in which CBI had registered FIRs more than four years ago.

The Supreme Court is monitoring investigations into the purchases since 2004 when a PIL pointed out a damning report from Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that the ministry had agreed with CBI and Central Vigilance Commission to close 29 of the 35 purchase cases as they did not involve any corruption.

Of the remaining six cases, CBI has reiterated to MoD its earlier findings that in three purchases -- Hand Held Thermal Imagers worth Rs 41.95 crore, ammunition for T-72 tanks for Rs 402.7 crore and other ammunition worth Rs 9.2 crore -- "no criminality or malafides are discernable".

The high-profile cases were linked to Janata Dal(U) leader George Fernandes's tenure as defence minister during the Kargil war. And while the cases were pursued once the UPA came to power, not much headway seems to have been made into the allegations that saw Congress target Fernandes as "kafan chor".

It has been argued that some of the purchases that were contracted in haste during the war were actually delivered later and some procedures had to be shortened. The entire set of purchases relating to the Kargil war were later referred for investigation.

In TGM and casket purchase cases, CBI had registered FIRs nearly three years back and no progress has been reported to the SC by the MoD's affidavit, which was handed over to the court by solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam.

The MoD said CBI was still investigating "into payment of agency commission with regard to purchase of Anti Material Rifles contracted through Denel, a South African arms supplier".

Of the 29 cases which the MoD has decided to close, it has imposed monetary penalty on arms and other material suppliers, including those from foreign countries.

Lastly, the MoD said it has decided to close the case relating to purchase of Automatic Grenade Launcher for over Rs 52 crore, which was referred for an opinion to CVC. The CVC has advised closure of the case, it said.