Army Chief General VK Singh is expected to file a formal complaint with the CBI which will name the retired Army officer who allegedly offered him Rs 14 crore as bribe for clearing the purchase of 600 heavy duty trucks.
Government sources said the CBI has requested a complaint from the Army chief so that investigations into the allegation could be launched.
Highly placed CBI sources confirmed the development.
“The agency sought formal complaint from the army chief. After verifying the contents, the agency will decide about filing a formal FIR or pursuing the matter by registering a preliminary enquiry in the case.
“As of now it is one person’s allegation against another’s. Investigators will see if there is any evidence to support Gen. Singh’s allegation or not. A special team has been formed to probe the case.”
Defence minister AK Antony on Monday asked the CBI for an inquiry into Gen Singh’s revelation after an uproar in Parliament.
Gen Singh has not named the lobbyist and only identified him as a retired Army officer.
A press release by the Army Headquarters on March 5, in the context of reports on mobile monitoring equipment, coincidentally names a superannuated officer who offered bribes to unknown persons on behalf vehicle suppliers.
Although the ministry is tight-lipped, sources said a “recently retired” serviceman sought a formal appointment with the Army chief in the autumn of 2010 at his office to discuss unspecified issues. The meeting date and time is logged in official Army Headquarters record.
In the midst of the conversation, the retired officer reportedly offered a bribe to Gen. Singh on the purchase of vehicles for the Army. It is understood that Gen. Singh asked the lobbyist to leave his room, walked up to Antony’s room and narrated the incident. No inquiry was ordered at that time.
Sources say that at the heart of the incident lies the fact that the Army wanted to reconsider the purchase of heavy-duty trucks from an Indian company supplying on behalf of a Czech-UK joint venture. The Army Headquarters apparently found the cost of these trucks exorbitant in comparison to those manufactured by a West Bengal-based Indo-Russian joint venture company. The Army orders for heavy-duty vehicles normally run into several hundred crore of rupees.
Officials said Gen. Singh will now have to name the lobbyist before the CBI and give specifics about the vehicle deal. This will open the parent vehicle manufacturers to probe and may open the proverbial pandora’s box as Antony has made it clear to his officers and Service Chiefs that he would not hesitate to cancel any deal if any irregularities were brought to his notice.