‘Tainted’ IAF officer refuses to cooperate with inquiry


An Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who is alleged to have accepted bribes from aircraft companies during Aero India 2011, held in Bangalore last month, is not cooperating with the Court of Inquiry (CoI) initiated against him after he was caught red-handed taking money on the penultimate day of the show.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources said Wing Commander A K Thakur, who was trapped by a team of officers from the Department of Defence Production and Supplies on February 12 for accepting Rs 20,000 from a decoy, is resisting questions on the possible involvement of senior IAF officers in the latest scandal to hit the armed forces.

Wg Cdr Thakur is alleged to have taken three lakh euro for better positioning of aircraft belonging to some of the foreign vendors in the static display area of Yelahanka air base. The CoI was initiated against Wg Cdr Thakur by the IAF’s Assistant Provost Marshall in Bangalore, Wg Cdr Vijay Kumar, and has raised questions on the likely involvement of senior IAF officers who might have benefitted financially. Besides, the scope of the inquiry will likely widen and focus on whether any particular aircraft vendor who intended to “project” its product so it could find favour with the defence establishment sought Wg Cdr Thakur’s services.

A senior IAF officer in New Delhi said the CoI against Wg Cdr Thakur is likely to be completed within a month. Only after the CoI report is submitted, Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja, commander in chief of the Bangalore-based IAF training command would take a decision whether subsequent legal steps like “summary of evidence” and “court martial” procedures can be initiated against the tainted officer.

“We have taken cognizance of his misdemanour. Administrative or disciplinary action would be taken against him depending on the CoI report,” said an IAF official.
The CoI, being headed by Group Captain Daniel Victor, is looking into allegations of Thakur collecting close to three lakh euros from foreign companies for placing their aircraft at better vantage points in the static display area at the Aero-India, 2011.

The eighth edition of Aero-India was the largest domestic air show so far in which 45 foreign aircraft including 26 civil aircraft participated. As many as 50 official delegates from various countries participated.

With India emerging as a lucrative defence market with billions of dollars at stake both in direct sale as well as in offsets, arms companies are in intense competition to grab the eyeballs of policy makers at every level, who had to decide on the pending purchases. Retired senior officers are also involved in the lobbying.

The defence budget too is on a steady rise in the last four years. It went up from Rs 91,680 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 1,64,415.49 crore in 2011-12, out of which Rs 69,199 crore would be used for new purchase and ongoing payments for signed contracts.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Mar 9 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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