Published Sunday Guardian: February 27, 2021,
New Delhi: An ailing official with the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), who was described as a “whistle-blower” by the then Defence Minister, the late Manohar Parrikar, is facing “forceful eviction” from his government house in what he has described as a “vindictive action” by the DRDO.
Prakash Singh, who belonged to the Administration cadre of DRDO, was removed from service in August 2020 for being “absent” from the job. However, the facts on record, which The Sunday Guardian has gone through, present a totally different picture.
Singh played an instrumental role in bringing to public view the alleged corruption and nepotism done by at least three director level officers with DRDO—one of whom was suspended on the last day of his job—and anomalies related to recruitment of four different scientists—of these four, the appointments of two were annulled. Singh’s immediate ordeal started in August 2016 when he was posted at Joint Cypher Bureau (JCB), a wing of the DRDO, on 18 August 2016 as a senior administration officer. Three days later, he was sent to another sub office of the same wing where he was not given any work until he stayed there till 29 November 2017 despite Singh sending multiple communications seeking “work”.
On 30 November 2017, he on his own “rejoined” the JCB office. According to Singh, he went to this office till 11 December and was allotted an access pass, an official email address and departmental work.
However, on the afternoon of 11 December 2017, his access was removed and he was stopped from entering the establishment.
Despite that, he continued to go outside his office and register his presence by showing his ID card into the CCTV camera that was installed at the gates. He continued to do so till August 2020 when he was removed from service for “absence from duty” and all his pensionary benefits, that came with 33 years of service, were stopped.
“I was not given any salary for these 21 months (from December 2017 to August 2020) despite going to register my presence every day in front of the CCTV camera, as I was not allowed to enter the premises. Now, they are coming to my house daily and asking me to vacate the house despite my case of illegal removal from service still pending in multiple forums and both my wife and I are in ill health, the certificates of which I have already submitted to the offices concerned,” Singh told The Sunday Guardian.
According to Singh, the DRDO carried out an ex-parte inquiry against him while deciding to remove him from service, and did not give him the charge-sheet and the inquiry officer in the case himself was allegedly “tainted”.
Documents accessed by The Sunday Guardian clearly show that the then Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had directed the DRDO and the Ministry of Defence “to identify and take action against the persons who trumped up false charges and committed a number of procedural irregularities with single-minded objective of harassing Shri Prakash Singh” after disciplinary proceedings were initiated against Singh. However, as per Singh, no inquiry was done by DRDO to identify these persons and rather it was he who has been continuously “targeted” since then.
The proceedings were started, as per Singh, after he brought out in the open the alleged wrongdoings within DRDO by a few. “Raksha mantri has ordered quashing of the charges framed against Shri Prakash Singh,” reads the official communication.
Another official communication by the Vigilance Department of Ministry of Defence, of October 2013, while investigating a case of irregular recruitment that was brought out in the open by Singh, has stated that the CVC was treating Singh as a “whistle blower” while stating that “it is palpable that action by some in handling the three complaints lodged by Shri Prakash Singh to CBI was taken with the motive to cause difficulties to the complainant”.
Email sent to DRDO for their response on the matter and whether any action, as directed by Parrikar, was taken to identify the persons who were harassing Singh was taken, did not elicit any response till the time the story went to press.