Controversy over Tatra truck deal figures in RS

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of controversy over Tatra truck deal, government today told the Rajya Sabha the purchases were made as per the requirement raised by defence forces and action will be taken if any wrongdoing was detected in the ongoing CBI probe.

"We are clean…we have nothing to hide, nothing to fear," Defence Minister A K Antony said, replying to queries related to Tatra truck deals.

He said the government has ordered an extensive and comprehensive CBI enquiry in the matter and hoped the country`s premier investigation agency would complete the probe as quickly as possible.

The Minister said action would be taken and he would give extensive reply on the matter during a debate on the working of Defence Ministry in the House. He said the purchases of the trucks were made as per the "requirement" of the defence forces.

Regarding a question on blacklisting of domestic and foreign arms companies, he said "we are in difficult situation" as "powerful" countries, vendors and domestic players all want Indian business.

Whenever there is any case of corruption action is taken, the minister said. He also said the ministry has decided to seek advice of Central Vigilance Commission and Law Ministry before going ahead with the ongoing projects.

Admitting that retired defence officers have been lobbying for defence deals, Antony said government would "seriously" consider recommendation a parliamentary committee to increase the cooling off period of ex-officers to 5 years from the present one year for joining private jobs.

The Defence Minister also informed the House that six firms have been barred from further dealings for 10 years.

The decision to debar the companies is based on the action taken by Ordnance Factory Board on the recommendations of the CBI for blacklisting them on evidence collected against them for payment of illegal gratification.

The blacklisted firms are: Singapore Technologies Kinetics; Israel Military Industries; T S Kisan & Co Pvt Ltd, New Delhi; R K Machine Tools, Ludhiana; Rheinmetall Air Defence, Zurich and Corporation Defence, Russia.

To a question related to Unit Run Canteens (URCs), Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended that the URCs be brought under the Unified Accountability Regime.

"The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) was denied access to the records of the URCs. URCs are established from non-public funds by respective Service formations out of their regimental funds and therefore Chiefs of Staff Committee is of the view that inspection of Accounts/Datas of URCs by CAG is not needed," he said.

The CAG report on performance audit of Canteen Stores Department was examined by the Committee and it has recommended statutory audit of URCs.

"The recommendations of PAC are under examination in the Ministry in consultation with three Services," Raju added.