The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the government’s probe into the alleged irregularities in procurement of equipments and recruitment of candidates in National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) needed to be court-monitored.
A bench of justice RV Raveendran and justice AK Patnaik issued a notice to the Centre, NTRO, Central Vigilance Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and asked the solicitor general of India, Rohinton Nariman, to file a report on the status of government’s probe before the court. The court also directed the law officer to present the inquiry report on the next hearing.
The court expressed its dissatisfaction with the Delhi high court order disposing the public interest litigation (PIL) without giving any directions. “It’s a very serious issue. The court should have monitored it to take it to a logical conclusion. In such matters, it is usually seen that once the court disposes of the matter, it is forgotten,” the bench observed. It further added that either the bench would “take it (monitoring) over” or “send it back to the HC.”
NTRO deals with missile monitoring, satellite and airborne imagery, cyber patrolling and security, cyber offensive operations, communication support systems as well as cryptology.
On the complaint of the petitioner and senior scientist, VK Mittal, CAG had carried out an unprecedented special audit in 2009, as NTRO is exempted from any audit since it is an intelligence agency. Mittal’s lawyer Jayant Bhushan claimed CAG had in its report had pointed to several irregularities in the procurement of equipments.
Mittal moved HC after the government did not divulge the details of CAG report. The HC, however, declined to give any directions and disposed his public interest litigation.
In his appeal before SC, Mittal has claimed that the closed nature of NTRO has resulted in misuse of funds. According to him the organisation has since 2005 received R8,000 crores as grant, of which 25% is considered as secret service fund of which there is no accounting.