May 26, 2018 – Sunday Guardian Live
Arun Jaitley had ordered action against two senior scientists in a case in DRDO.
Whistle-blowers and scientists working with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have written to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking her intervention in an alleged corruption case within the DRDO. Sitharaman’s predecessor Arun Jaitley had ordered disciplinary action against two senior scientists in this case, but no action has been taken yet. This newspaper is in possession of a correspondence that was shared by the whistle-blower with the Defence Minister. As per this correspondence, R.K. Jain (Director, Joint Cipher Bureau of the DRDO) and A.K. Singh (Director, Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences) were allegedly found to have been involved in “wasting” government money by conducting interviews for the promotion of scientists in DRDO, despite statutory rules barring such interviews. The DRDO had later stated that even though Rs 1 crore had been spent on calling 255 scientists for the interview, the results of the interview were not used to decide the promotions.
At the time of the interviews in 2011, R.K. Jain was the director of DRDO’s Recruitment and Assessment Centre (which takes care of recruitment and promotions), while A.K. Singh was the director of Directorate of Human Resource Development.
As per DRDO’s own admission, the amount spent on conducting similar interviews in subsequent years (2012 and 2013) was far less than what had been spent in 2011, though a greater number of scientists were interviewed—333 in 2012 and 376 in 2013. When contacted, Manish Bhardwaj, the spokesperson of DRDO, sought some time to respond and told this newspaper on 17 May: “The matter is being examined by a committee on the direction of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri. The committee shall submit the report in 3-4 days. After submission, DRDO would be in a position to provide the information sought by you.” However, no further information regarding the submission of the said report was shared by the spokesperson with this newspaper.
Official sources within the DRDO stated that no such committee was ever constituted in the matter.
The entire incident had come to light when a whistle-blower from DRDO first wrote to the Defence Minister and the Chief Vigilance Officer in July 2014, detailing how public money was wasted and that the whole process was used by the individuals concerned to indulge in alleged corruption.
“Instead of taking action against the two officials for their deliberate misconduct, DRDO rewarded them by awarding R.K. Jain with ‘Best techno managerial services/popular science communication award for his performance in 2011. A.K. Singh was promoted from the grade of Scientist F to the grade of Scientist G in 2011,” reads the latest communication to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. In June 2017, the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had ordered disciplinary action against Jain and Singh for causing a loss of Rs 1 crore to Government of India. “DRDO is known for using delaying tactics to shield officers. It deliberately sits on disciplinary orders of defence ministers to make sure that the officials in question retire without facing any punishment. They did this when Jaitley was the Defence Minister and are doing the same under Nirmala Sitharaman,” one of the whistle-blowers said.