An internal enquiry by the ministry of external affairs into the dubious manner in which sub-standard gifts for foreign dignitaries were acquired by its protocol division is being conducted at a leisurely pace by the ministry’s vigilance department.
The enquiry, which has been going on for the past two months, is yet to pin responsibility on the officials behind the scam that took place in contravention of proper procedures and in defiance of external affairs minister SM Krishna’s written instruction in January 2011 that all gifts for foreign dignitaries be purchased from state government emporiums or public sector undertakings — not from private agents, as was being done in a routine manner.
Besides, the enquiry as well as information accessed by HT, which first reported the scam on January 10, has revealed that high-value items were sourced from some favoured state government emporiums that do not stock or sell the items at all.
Protocol division officials sourced gifts — given to foreign dignitaries by the highest representatives of the country — mostly from the Assam and Madhya Pradesh emporiums in New Delhi.
Silverware, for example, was sourced from the Assam and Madhya Pradesh emporiums even though they don’t deal in items made of the precious metal.
Even marble mementos were sourced from these two emporiums despite the fact that they don’t stock or sell marble items.