Def Min suspends BEML chief for fair CBI probe

New Delhi/Bangalore: V R S Natarajan, CMD of the government-run BEML, was today suspended by the Defence Ministry on a CBI recommendation to ensure fair investigation against him in the controversial Tatra truck deal and other cases. The move comes a few days after the Defence Ministry issued a show cause notice to the BEML chief for slapping a defamation notice against former Army Chief Gen V K Singh without its permission.

"The Government has put the CMD of BEML V R S Natarajan under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Natarajan," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here. "The charge of CMD has been given to P Dwarkanath, the senior most functional Director in BEML," he said.

In Bangalore, Natarajan, who has headed the defence PSU for 12 years, said he will "come out clean" in the cases against him. "I respect the Government decision and I will come out clean in this process," he said. Natarajan is being questioned by the CBI in a case regarding alleged irregularities in procurement and supply of Tatra all terrain vehicles to army.

Gen V K Singh, who retired on May 31 after holding the post of the Army chief for over two years, had alleged in March that he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh to clear supply of a tranche of 600 "sub-standard" Tatra trucks from BEML. On June 6, the defence ministry had sought an explanation from Natarajan for serving a legal notice on Gen V K Singh demanding an apology for his alleged defamatory statements against the defence PSU on the Tatra truck issue.

The CBI has also booked the BEML chairman for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption in connection with tendering process for hiring a private consultancy firm and carried out searches at several locations including his residence. The case related to award of contract for the implementation of Enterprises Resource Planning Project in the public sector undertaking during 2004-09.