Ex-CMD Of BEL Booked By CBI On Corruption Charges

Favouratism is always an outcome of privatisation, alleges C.Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF

The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed an FIR against former CMD of Bharat Electronics Limited, a Defence PSU under the Ministry of Defence. Sunil Kumar Sharma, has been booked under charges of corruption for allegedly favouring a private company for many years and awarding it contracts worth Crores in the Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) project of the Indian Airforce.

The CBI, on 7th December, registered a case against S.K.Sharma and several other officials of BEL. They are booked for extending undue favours to RD Konsultants, to bag contract worth over Rs.1500 Crores. The CBI alleges that Sharma and other officials of BEL has been going out of the way to help RD Konsultants, since 2011 when he was the GM and the CMD of Network Centering System of BEL, Ghaziabad.

Since the above corruption case is pertaining to one of the important Defence PSU, www.indianpsu.com contacted C.Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF, who said that it is a known fact that in most of the Tenders floated by the Government officials, there are complaints that the Tender conditions are framed in such a manner to favour and benefit certain selected private industries. There is no check and balance system to monitor all these tenders even though there are guidelines issued by the Central Vigilance Commission periodically. In the case of Defence Procurement, previously the Defence Procurement Manual mandates requirement of NOC from Ordnance Factory Board for procurement of items from Trade by Indian Defence Forces if the items are in the production range of OFB.

He added that the Government, with the approval of Defence Minister during the year 2017-18, have taken a decision to declare more than 275 items manufactured by Ordnance Factories as Non-Core, meaning thereby that the requirement of NOC from OFB will be dispensed with and Army will be free float tenders for these items. This has given a free hand to the Army to float tenders and place the orders to private sector. By framing the Tender conditions, the game play starts for favouring certain selective private industries. It is pertinent to mention here that the Government while issuing orders on 16th January, 2018, declaring 39 Troop Comfort items including the Army Uniform has categorically stated that Ordnance Factory Board can also participate in the Tender and can get orders on competitive basis. However in the recent Tender floated by the Army for procurement of Newly Designed Digitally Printed Combat Uniform, the TCL which is carved out from the OFB is denied the opportunity to participate in the Tender, because of the restrictive conditions imposed by the Army Hq. that the bidders should have the capability / activities and Machineries irrespective of locations being carried out under one legal entity holding one PAN, for Wet Processing, Dyeing, Printing and Garmenting. It is an internationally agreed fact that the Textile Industry and Garment Industry are totally different Industries. However the present Tender favours only those few industries which have got the Textile manufacturing facility and also the Garment manufacturing facility. Due to this even majority of the Private industries including MSMEs are kept out of the race.

Srikumar says that the CVC guidelines issued in 2002 and 2004 have categorically stated that framing of the pre-qualification on eligibility criteria in such a way that they are neither too stringent nor too lax to achieve the purpose of fair competition. The CVC has categorically mentioned that stringent eligibility criteria resulting in entry barrier for potential bidders and poor competition is an irregularity. Despite the above and also the guidelines given in Para 2.4.8 of Defence Procurement Manual 2009, that “Any item developed/manufactured by a DPSU specifically for the Defence Services, with TOT or through Design and development should be procured from the concerned Defence PSU only”, the Army Tender for procurement of Newly Designed Digitally Printed Army Logo Uniform is designed in such a way only to favour some selected Private Industries. It is also understood that some MSMEs have also approached Court of Law against the restrictive Tender.

With the bitter experience in the past of corruption in favouring selected Private Industries, the Government in the Defence Procurement Manual kept the Provision that items which the Ordnance Factories can manufacture should be procured only from the Ordnance Factories and in case of procurement from Private sources NOC was mandatory from the Ordnance Factory Board. Unfortunately all these are now scrapped and post Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories, things are going in different direction. There is a planned conspiracy against the Ordnance Factories with the ulterior motive that if Ordnance Factories are out of the field, then favoured private industries can be given thousands of crores worth procurement contract. Time will only expose such illegal affairs as now the former CMD of BEL is booked for corruption charges, concluded C. Srikumar.

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