Dalip Singh | Mail Today | New Delhi, June 14, 2011
A senior official in the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) is facing the heat for blowing the whistle on corruption and nepotism in the premier intelligence body.
Director (establishment) Suresh Sharma was moved out of the NTRO’s Delhi headquarters after red-flagging large-scale irregularities in sensitive appointments made by the organisation brass.
The NTRO has been courting bad publicity following an as yet-unreleased report by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG), criticising the organisation for alleged irregularities in the purchase of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).
The organisation, set up after the Kargil war to spruce up technical intelligence, reports to the National Security Adviser who is answerable directly to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The PMO has sought the NTRO’s response on the CAG report.
In January, about a month before he was moved to Bangalore, Sharma wrote to NSA Shiv Shankar Menon accusing senior adviser P. V. Kumar of aiding irregularities in the appointment of external pilots and scientists, among other posts. Recently, Kumar was elevated as the NTRO head.
The PMO had forwarded Sharma’s complaint for appropriate action to Kumar, then acting chairman of the NTRO. As nothing seemed to have come of it, the PMO sent a reminder on March 30 and asked for an action taken report.
The PMO also constituted a single-member inquiry panel under Kumar to look into the complaints of irregular appointments. Strangely, the complaints were marked to Kumar despite the fact that the supervisory role of the NTRO chairman was not above board.
A detailed questionnaire was faxed to the NTRO chairman more than a week back, seeking his response on the serious charges against him and allegations of corruption in the premier organisation. However, Kumar refused to file a reply despite several reminders.
Sharma had alleged in his letter to the NSA that Kumar had attempted to water down the true findings of his inquiry panel. Sharma could not be reached for comments despite making several calls to Bangalore.
Sharma, who was holding the charge of additional controller (administration) in the NTRO, stated in his fivepage complaint that he had tried to apprise Kumar of the appointments violating all government norms and corruption in the organisation.
“A lot of pressure was mounted on me to change my notes but, as a dutiful officer of central government posted in a very sensitive organisation, I did not succumb to any such pressure,” he wrote.
The letter quotes several instances to give a glimpse of what is wrong in the NTRO. A group captain (retired) posted at the Dehradun aviation base was shielded despite complaints of corruption pending against him. As a cover-up exercise, the NTRO ordered an inquiry against him. But its establishment division suggested the probe report not be accepted as it did not follow government regulations. Once the objections were raised on the official file, it was never returned to the establishment division, Sharma alleged.
Two officers were employed on a contract basis in the organisation at the joint secretary-level. The NTRO, overlooking the PMO’s directive putting a cap on employment at 65 years’ age, wanted to extend their services. The NTRO suggested the two could be appointed at ‘job contract basis’, which too was illegal.
The CAG report is also believed to have taken note of the irregularities. But it is suspected the government is not willing to make the report public as it would open up a can of worms which would be difficult for the PMO to defend.