Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Monday said there was no proposal to stall the purchase of 197 Reconnaissance and Surveillance helicopters for the Army despite the CBI filing a case to probe irregularities in the deal.
Fielding questions in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister said, “There have been allegations of irregularities in certain defence procurements such as VVIP choppers for the Air Force, Reconnaissance and Surveillance helicopters and Tatra trucks for the Army and award of contract by the Ordnance Factory Board, Kolkata.”
He said the government had always tried to unravel the truth. “Whenever an allegation of corruption is received against defence deals we examine it, wherever necessary, and refer the case to the appropriate agency for investigation. Suitable action is taken against the persons/vendors found guilty.”
Mr. Antony also claimed that “no official of the Ministry has been found guilty during the said period.”
He said there were “well-defined procedures with adequate checks and balances” prescribed in the Defence Procurement Procedure for capital procurement and the Defence Procurement Manual for revenue procurement.
“The existing procedure includes provisions such as collegiate approvals at different stages, oversight mechanism, standard clauses of contract, signing of pre-contract integrity pact, etc. These steps ensure the process conforms to the highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability.”
Referring to the VVIP chopper scam, he said the February 2010 contract to buy 12 VVIP/VIP helicopters signed with M/s. Agusta Westland International Ltd. had been terminated on January 1, 2014. The government scrapped the deal on the grounds of breach of the provisions of the Pre-contract Integrity Pact.