Defence Minister A K Antony said on Friday that a Navy inquiry has established a senior officer's connection with a Russian woman. It is yet to be probed whether this link influenced the price hike of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.
The officer, Commodore Sukhjinder Singh, was in charge of the Gorshkov refit project in Russia between 2005 and 2007. He was also part of the cost negotiation committee that firmed up a revised price of USD 2.33 billion (about Rs 11,000 crore) for the Kiev class aircraft carrier's refit at a Russian shipyard.
"Navy has completed one part of its investigations and they have just started the second part of the investigations. The particular man (Com Singh) had some relations with the other side...a lady. That part has been established. Nothing beyond that is proved so far. Let the Navy complete the investigation," said Antony.
"The Navy is taking special care to speed up the investigation. As soon as the investigation is complete, we will take a decision. I do not want to jump to conclusions (before the probe is over)," he said at the inaugural session of the Unified Commanders Conference in New Delhi.
Antony said he had asked the Navy to speed up the investigation. "They (Navy) are at it. Prematurely, I do not want to jump to conclusions. Let them complete it (the probe)," he said.
The Navy on Thursday submitted its Board of Inquiry report about the episode, which began when the Navy received "objectionable" photographs of the officer along with the Russian woman a week ago.
Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is scrutinising the report to make recommendations to the Defence Ministry about a suitable punishment for Commodore Singh.
After his Russian tenure, Singh was sent back to India as the Principal Director of Aircraft Carrier Project before he was transferred to the Directorate General of Quality Assurance in the capital late last year.
Last month, the Cabinet Committee on Security gave its nod to sign a deal with the Sevmash Shipyard for the Gorshkov's refit at USD 2.33 billion.
India had in 2004 bought the 45,000-tonne warship at a cost of USD 974 million, but the shipyard hiked its price twice for the refit and repair programme since 2007.
Though originally scheduled for delivery in August 2008, the protracted cost negotiation led to a delay in the repair work on the aircraft carrier. It has now been rescheduled for 2012.