Monday, March 26, 2012



The disclosure made by Gen.V.K.Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), in an interview to “The Hindu” ( March 26,2012) that he had refused an offer of a bribe of Rs.14 crores in connection with a commercial transaction relating to the purchase of vehicles for the Army some months ago and that he had reported it to Shri A.K.Antony, the Defence Minister, if correct, raises serious questions regarding the way corruption allegations are handled in the Government of India. Subsequent reports have alleged that the bribe was offered by a senior retired officer of the Army.

2. As per the normal procedures, the COAS should have immediately taken the following action:

( a ). Report the matter to the Minister.

( b ). Address a formal Demi-official letter to the Minister in confirmation of what he had reported orally and requesting for an enquiry.

( c ).Call from his office the file relating to this transaction and record a note that he (the COAS) was offered a bribe by a retired Army officer which he refused and that he had reported it to the Defence Minister orally and in writing and asked for an enquiry.

( d ). Address a note to his office that the retired Army officer who offered the bribe should not be issued a security pass in future to visit Army offices and that action should be initiated for suspending his pension payments till the final outcome of the enquiry.

3. Apart from orally reporting to the Defence Minister, the COAS does not appear to have taken any other action as expected under the normal office procedures when there is an attempted bribery. His disclosing the incident now in a media interview would naturally give rise to a strong suspicion that his belated disclosure two months before the end of the controversial final months of his career because of his differences with the MOD regarding his date of birth must have been motivated with a personal agenda.

4. When the COAS orally reported the matter to him, the Defence Minister should have immediately taken the following action:

( a ). Record a formal note in the relevant file of his office regarding the disclosure of the COAS and stating that he was ordering the Defence Secretary to refer the matter to the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), for a Preliminary Enquiry ( PE) to be followed by a formal investigation if found correct.

( b ) Address a formal DO letter to the Defence Secretary with copies to the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to refer the matter to the CBI for a PE.

5. The Defence Minister does not appear to have taken any of these actions. This related to a case of attempted bribery in an office of the Government of India. It did not require the concurrence of any State Government or any other authority for ordering a PE by the CBI. The Minister was competent to do so and should have done so.

6. There have been serious acts of omission by the COAS as well as by the Defence Minister and these amount to a serious case of dereliction of duty. Before the controversy gets dirtier due to allegations and counter-allegations and suspicions and counter-suspicions, the Prime Minister should ask the Cabinet Secretary to take over the responsibility for further enquiries to establish the truth. (27-3-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )


nri2008 said...

Dear Ramanji

This is a bureaucratic analysis. As one who has been in Indian Government and seen all the strengths and weaknesses can you please suggest how the System can be repaired by plugging loopholes and Guilty are punished with severe and exemplary punishment? Since 1947 how many Ministers and Civil Servants and other high ranked officers been punished for Corruption?What is the impact of non performance & failure of justice in Indian Governance system and does this not reflect DERELICTION of Duty starting from Prime Minister onwards?There is a CAste System in Indian Governments-Central and State where OWN protect their own!
Only if this UNHOLY NEXUS is broken and system fixed will the common Indian people have opportunity to lead a decent life!


Fence Sitter said...

every one knows how Q had unfettered access to the MOD chamchas who fell on his feet to patronise him ! the rot is much deeper and the malaise spread much farther. unless we take pride in our roots and practice ethics as preached in our dharma, western style democracy will destroy this nation.

Sandeep said...

Compare this incident with one hon'ble justice's practice when faced with one similar 'attempt at influencing'.

Mega Power Services said...

I wonder if the COAS had also informed the MoD about the Taped Conversation, which has now been handed over to CBI?

Esoteric said...

It appears this issue was brewing for a bit.Procedure that COAS ought to have followed is good advice in theory but not in practice.

Why MOD ordered CBI inquiry without COAS giving a written complaint?It shows written complaint is GOOD to have but NOT necessary to initiate action.

Also,COAS was embroiled in age and other disputes with MOD since the start of his tenure and its foolhardy to suggest that his written complaint would not have been thrown in dustbin.Fact that BEML is a Govt and that too a MOD entity to the extent that it deals with MOD regularly for 26 yrs cannot be ignored.In other words,COAS was apprising Min of Def of a bribe offer from Min of Def side and COAS was asked to put it on record but other action refused.Im sorry but it ONLY shows Min. of Def in poor light not the COAS.