Cracking the whip against erring officials, Civil Aviation, Ajit Singh on Monday ordered immediate suspension and initiation of major penalty proceedings against six senior officers of Airports Authority of India (AAI) after a CBI inquiry found them guilty of committing serious irregularities and wrong doing at various airports including Chennai, Kolkata Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Calicut, Mangalore and Tiruchi.
The CBI investigations had revealed that these officials – L.L. Krishnan, Executive Director (Commercial), R.L. Saran, DGM (Finance), S. Basu, Additional GM (Commercial), Arun Mehan, DGM (Operations), P.K. Chadha, DGM (Operations) and Ravi Verma, GM favoured a particular company in award of contracts for ground handling services at certain airports, an official statement issued here said on Monday.
The Minister also directed filing of the FIR Prem Bajaj, managing director, of Bhadra International, the suspect company, R. V. Narayanan, retired ED (Commercial), Ajit Kumar Dubey, retired ED (Finance), AAI and others for their acts of manipulation, forgery, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy and corruption under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act. It has also been decided that action may be initiated against the company for cancellation of the award/contract and recovery of dues, the statement added.
Mr. Singh also directed AAI to take corrective measures to prevent participation of defaulter contractor/parties (even if the default is by their sister/ related concerns) in future tender processes by incorporating suitable provisions in the rules and regulations. Following complaints of irregularities in award of contract for ground handling services by the AAI, the CBI had conducted a preliminary enquiry. The enquiry into award of contract for ground handling services at Chennai and Kolkata airports found that the officers of the AAI made certain deviations from the Commercial Manual in the Notice Inviting Tender (NIT), the statement said.
The deviation in particular included deliberate incorporation of the term tie-up arrangement in the eligibility criteria as stipulated in the NIT to make Bhadra International India Ltd. eligible in joint venture technical agreement with Novia International Consulting APS for participating in the bid process. The justification by the officers that the deviation in the NIT had been made as improvements keeping in view similar tenders floated by DIAL and MIAL were found misleading in the inquiry as the NIT of DIAL and MIAL have not used terms as tie-up arrangement.
The enquiry further revealed that TDI International also owned by Mr. Bajaj, sister company of Bhadra International was having a huge outstanding of Rs.36 crores to AAI in an advertisement contract. Further, Mr. Narayanan, retired ED (Commercial) who was liable for drafting NIT joined Bhadra International India Ltd. as its vice president after retirement. Taking serious exception of this, the Minister directed AAI to suitably amend its service rules by incorporating provisions for seeking the permission by the retired employees to seek employment within a period of two years after retirement, it stated.