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Updated: June 12, 2012 03:13 IST

CBI may summon BEML chief as Defence Ministry suspends him

Special Correspondent
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BEML Chief V.R.S. Natarajan during a press conference in Bangalore recently. Photo: K. Gopinathan
BEML Chief V.R.S. Natarajan during a press conference in Bangalore recently. Photo: K. Gopinathan

Even as V.R.S. Natarajan, Chairman and Managing Director of BEML, was on Monday suspended on the recommendation of the CBI to ensure fair investigation into the Tatra truck deal and other cases, the investigating agency got the Defence Ministry's approval to initiate proceedings against him.

“Permission sought under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act has been granted. It will be formally communicated to us anytime,” said a highly placed source in the CBI. Permission was sought to investigate Mr. Natarajan's role in alleged irregularities in the deals under the CBI scanner.

The CBI is expected to summon Mr. Natarajan for questioning in view of the documentary evidence gathered by it in the past few days and purported revelations made by retired and serving BEML officials.

Earlier on Monday, a Defence Ministry release said: “The government has put the CMD of BEML, V.R.S. Natarajan, under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Mr. Natarajan.”

Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said the charge of CMD had been given to P. Dwarkanath, senior-most functional Director in BEML.

The CBI recommended Mr. Natarajan's removal after it discovered that all those BEML officials summoned for questioning were allegedly being “tutored” by him in advance.

About a week ago, the Defence Ministry asked Mr. Natarajan to explain why he had served a legal notice for filing a defamation suit against the former Army Chief, General V. K. Singh.

Mr. Natarajan said in Bangalore that he would “come out clean'' in the cases against him. “I respect the government decision and I will come out clean in this process,'' he said. The CBI has accused him of trying to influence witnesses in the case and requested the Ministry to keep him away from the process of ongoing investigation.

He is being questioned by the CBI in a case regarding alleged irregularities in procurement and supply of Tatra vehicles to the Army. The CBI is probing if the company had violated guidelines in buying and selling the trucks. It has also booked him for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption in connection with the tendering process to hire a consultancy firm for BEML.

General V. K. Singh had alleged in an interview to The Hindu in March that he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 crore by a former senior Army officer to clear supply of 600 “sub-standard'' Tatra trucks from BEML.

(With inputs from Devesh K. Pandey)

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This exposes the UPA regime's incompetence and corruption. Is the CBI competent and bold enough to investigate those who are responsible to the crimes or allow to slip through the cracks as the political masters do not give green signals?

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 17:09 IST

Is the purchase of trucks done on competitive bid basis or single bid basis? If it is on single bid, who authorized the purchase, how long is it happening, what is the total value of such purchases so far and how the fairness of price was established? Need a very thorough investigation.

from:  S. Parthasarathy
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 12:51 IST

The defence ministry's action on Natarajan is very little, and too late. but a satisfactory one. The Charges are including his role in the House building co-op Society. However, his alleged role in destabilisation of Trade unions and unfair transfers of workmen & officers, unfair/ dis proved charges against whistle blower, withholding of due promotions and many more also to be investigated in the same breath.

from:  S GUNDANNA
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 11:33 IST

It is painful that while there is so much emphasis on fraud risk assessment and
management in the private sector, not much thought, effort and resources go into
the public sector. 

from:  Sushma Nagaraj
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 09:56 IST

As per CBI's recommendation & request, Def Ministry has suspended Natarajan. Now CBI should speed up the case and identify the culprits who were involved in the process. CBI should not waste poor people's tax money towards expenses to find out the conclusion. CBI officials should not spend more than whatever they are entitled.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 09:27 IST

The Hindu should uphold the high standard of journalism it is known for and tell the reader what the abbreviation BEML stands for. This should be done everytime an organisation is mentioned in a story.

from:  Pradeep
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 07:15 IST

The CBI proceeded with alacrity in getting the CMD of BEML suspended and is now with equal speed,if not faster,getting ready to interrogate him.It is a pity that the same alacrity was not exhibited in the cases of Kalmadi,Raja,Kanimozhi and some of the big guns in the Adarsh scam,which may have resulted in all evidence
incriminating documents,papers etc.not to mention of witness tampering.
One more point begs a clarification in this "Tatragate"affair.
Either the ex-Army Chief is speaking an untruth or the retired
ex-General who is alleged to have offered the bribe to the former.
How come neither has been so far interrogated?Strange are the ways of the CBI and the government.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 06:13 IST

How is Chidambaram's case any different? Why would CBI not recommend that the Home Minister step down to ensure fair investigation against "Him, the ex-Finance Minister". CBI - Be consistent or lose credibility.

from:  Venkatesh Bhaskaran
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 01:01 IST

I am reminded of an incident in late 2000, when the DG ICAR -cum - Secretary DARE was put on 'compulsory wait' to ensure he would not interfere with CBI investigation into certain financial transactions of ICAR. Actually, he was one of the suspects, and CBI had evidence of his direct involvement in the 'fraud'. However, the suspect had strong political connections (all parties) in India, and even stronger international connections, e.g. with the bosses in FAO. He managed to rustle up a storm of 'protests', that forced not only the Minister in charge to revoke his suspension, but also CBI to give him a 'clean chit'. The then Minister resigned and went back to his home state. I have a strong feeling this Natarajan will achieve something even bigger. To quote W B Yeats, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

from:  renuka sen gupta
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 22:15 IST

The lesson in all this is PEOPLE LIVING IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULD NOT THROW STONES. This guy has a lot of baggage hinmself. He just tried to act smart and got nailed.

from:  Mohan
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 21:49 IST

From the way BEML and HAL maintain their roads and surroundings in Bangalore, it is quite clear that both these companies are mere white elephants steeped in corruption. Time to put them on track. While doing this, other defence establishments must also be subjected to scrutiny.

from:  VMN Sharma
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 19:49 IST

obviously, that is why yeddyurappa quit.

from:  murty
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 19:44 IST

IF the Live Channel Expose and the print media reports are credible
even at a dicount of 75% this action should have been taken by the
Ministry months ago.
The highly contemptuous tone the BEML Chairman and Mr.Rishi dismissed the complaints by the C.o.A.S should have been an eye opener for the Govt to take note.It took a Journalist to find out
that the TATRA trucks used by the Defence are "LEFT"hand Drive-over
decades.

from:  Ajith Kumar
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 19:18 IST

The corruption relating to the Tatra issue was going on for a very long time and was exposed only when the former Army Chief spoke about it. I wonder why the matter remained unexposed for so long. Every public sector company has a Vigilence Dept. In addition there is the office of the CVC. What were the people in the Vigilence Dept. and the CVC doing all these years? Action must be taken against these people as well.

I have little sympathy for corrupt officials. But there are any number of very corrupt politicians (belonging to almost every political party) who have have indulged in wholesale looting while in office either at the Centre or in the States but are walking free. The CBI investigates against these people only when either the courts force them to or when it suits the ruling party.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 19:05 IST

It is so unfortunate that another Tamil is involved in such a shameful
act. Are we not having our plates full? What a disgrace these fellows
are for Tamil community which is acclaimed as intelligent,
straightforward and very nationalistic.

from:  shankar kare
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 16:41 IST

Ministers are beyond law.

from:  Kamath
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 16:40 IST

He was appointed by none other than DMK’s Murasoli Maran when he was the Industry Minister during BJP rule. Natarajan was a Director Personal of ECIL, a public sector undertaking in Hyderabad before appointed as CMD of BEML. How things can go wrong in government is the appointment of Natarajan as CMD of BEML.

from:  Appan
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 16:35 IST

Even after the then Army Chief Mr V.K.Singh informed the Defence
Minister about the bribe offer,no enquiry was made.There was no follow
up action.The serious issue was ignored.If only prompt action was
taken,BEML Chief could have been replaced.Even otherwise Mr Natarajan
had reportedly managed to stay at the top post for too long a period.Was
there any quid pro qua between Mr Natarajan and the political masters?
Any way in such matters truth never comes out for obvious reasons.One
more feather in UPA cap.

from:  S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:58 IST

General Singh's stand has been proved correct and he was humiliated because he was not like them who took bribes and signed deals.

from:  saad warsi
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:46 IST

Shri Natarajan threatened to sue the retired Army Chief for
defamation.His claim appears to be hollow judged by this development.

from:  manoharan
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:23 IST

win for the honest person GEN V.K.Singh. GEN Singh will always remain inspiration for all Indian and ARMY. Jai HinD

from:  mukesh
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:12 IST

Chief Singh having retired, the M O D has no further use of Natarajan.

from:  Hilary Pais
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:09 IST

A very min step in right direction!

from:  atis
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 15:03 IST

@Narayanan: Exactly what I was thinking.

from:  Dhiraj Shetty
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 14:56 IST

Corrupt or not, why did Natrajan continue to head BEML for 10 long years?

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 14:39 IST

Will they do the same thing for a Minister under investigation?

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 13:53 IST

All the people from KGF will be very happy with this decisions.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Jun 11, 2012 at 13:46 IST
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