SUNDAY, 18 MARCH 2012 00:27 J GOPIKRISHNAN | NEW DELHI
While the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Advisor are trying to hush up the wrongdoings by powerful technical intelligence agency, NTRO, by not tabling the CAG report in Parliament, the CAG response to an RTI query confirms blatant violations in purchase and recruitments in the sensitive organisation.
The CAG submitted its report to the President in mid-February 2011. As per tradition, this should have been tabled in Parliament in the next session. But the Government has not mustered the courage to table it even after more than a year.
The Government may attract breach of privilege notices from parliamentarians as it is going to submit the report to the Supreme Court on March 19. All the CAG reports are first placed in Parliament, which makes it public.
This will be the first time the Government will bypass Parliament and submit a CAG report to the Supreme Court. The SC had ordered for production of the controversial CAG report in a sealed cover on a petition filed by former joint secretary of National Technical Research Organisation VK Mittal.
“We have noticed lack of transparency and non-compliance of rules and procedures in procurement of systems/stores/equipment and deficient procurement management resulting in cases of excess payment/wasteful expenditure/loss to exchequer,” said the CAG’s office in the RTI reply sought by whistleblower VK Mittal.
“We have noticed cases of appointment of ineligible candidates and lack of transparency in recruitment of regular employees also in NTRO…. We have noticed lack of transparency in appointment of contractual employees… We have noticed instances of misuse of official position,” added CAG’s office.
CAG decision to audit on NTRO affairs in December 2009 was vehemently objected by then National Security Advisor MK Naryanan and later overruled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. NTRO, which was formed after the Kargil war, works under NSA who reports to the Prime Minister.
The CAG submitted its performance audit on the NTRO, the first such audit report on an intelligence organisation in mid-February 2011. The report, according to sources, exposed the style of functioning and rampant corruption in secret service organisation, nepotism and siphoning money in the name of national security. The findings of the CAG were pointing directly towards the “arbitrary decisions” of then NSA and higher officials in the PMO, said sources.
Among the major findings, the blatant violation of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) purchases by manipulating the decisions of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The CAG report, a copy of which is also with National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon over the past one year, has indicted former NTRO Chairman KVSS Prasad Rao and its Advisor MS Vijayaraghavan for misdeeds in several purchases.
The CAG’s Special Audit on Performance and Finance of NTRO has revealed that the agency, in a bid to favour the Israeli vendors, never informed the CCS on adding extra cost of Rs 150 crore. The CCS sanctioned Rs 300 crore for purchase and NTRO manipulated the accounting procedures and hiked the purchase amount to Rs 450 crore.
More over CAG found that the entire such purchase to favour the Israeli vendor lead to inferior quality and the entire UAVs are still non-operational.
The CAG in its report on the functioning of NTRO found that as many as 143 posts in the sensitive organisation were filled not according the procedures and observed severe nepotism in such postings. The CAG decided to audit when Mittal, who quit from the organisation and complained on illegalities.
After Government hushed up the CAG report by not tabling before Parliament, he approached Supreme Court through noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan. In a recent hearing, Justices HL Dattu and CK Prasad directed Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman to submit the controversial CAG report on March 19 in a sealed cover. Several legal experts point out that non-tabling of CAG report before Parliament and presenting it in a sealed cover before court may invite breach of privilege by Parliamentarians.