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Thursday, 26 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 26 Apr 2012




http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120426/nation.htm#4
Copter deal: Antony seeks fresh report on 'tainted' Italy firm
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Defence Minister AK Antony today directed his ministry officials to get a fresh report from the Indian Embassy in Rome following media reports in the Italian media alleging malpractices by an Italian company which is also supplying 12 helicopters for the VVIP Communication Squadrons of the Indian Air Force from Ms Agusta Westland.

The Ministry of Defence today said there were media reports in February 2012 about investigations undertaken by Italian authorities into alleged unethical dealings by M/s Finmeccanica Italy. Following this, information was sought by the MoD from the Indian Embassy in Rome. The Indian Embassy had then reported that Italian authorities were conducting preliminary investigations on allegations of financial malpractices occurring within Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries in general. No specific probe was being conducted on the India-related transactions. There is no clear indication at this stage whether the India related deal would be probed on the basis of the preliminary investigations.

"The contract for the procurement of the helicopters contains the standard provisions against use of undue influence and employment of agents and payment of agency commission. A Pre-Contract Integrity Pact has also been signed between Agusta Westland and the MoD", an MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

Any such complaint or allegation, if received, will be investigated and the contractual provisions invoked in case any wrongdoing is established, in addition to action that may be required under law, Kar said.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120426/main3.htm
MoD 'bugging': Tejinder Singh takes Army Chief to apex court
Wants CBI probe into his 'role', alleges misconduct
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) today moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into the alleged role of outgoing Army Chief Gen VK Singh in the reported bugging of the Defence Minister's office. The government has already denied that the minister's office was bugged.

The retired officer's move comes in the wake of Gen VK Singh's allegation that Tejinder Singh offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore for awarding a contract to a private company for the purchase of trucks. On the Army Chief's complaint, the CBI has begun the investigations.

Tejinder also took exception to the Army Chief reportedly making "political statements" on sensitive issues such as the Maoist problem despite holding the decorated post. It was not proper on the Army Chief's part to suggest that the Maoist menace was the creation of the government, particularly at a time when the Army's help had been sought in Naxal-hit areas, he reasoned.

Gen VK Singh has been made a party to the petition filed in the apex court. Tejinder Singh has also filed a criminal defamation case in a trial court here against the Army Chief and four senior officers. The trial court would first decide whether it should summon the Army Chief in the defamation case.

The move by Tejinder Singh today is being seen as yet another chapter in the ongoing fight. Tejinder Singh has already filed a defamation case against the Army Chief and four other Army officers. He has said that the Army Headquarters issued a press release in March in which allegation were levelled against him. This included that he was involved in planting stories in the media about bugging of Antony's office. The press release had not named him.

The Army Chief on his part has lodged a complaint with the CBI alleging that Tejinder Singh offered him a bribe for pushing the sale of Tatra trucks.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120426/main6.htm
Maj Gen alleges illegal detention since Aug 2009
Delhi HC extends stay on trial
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 25
While the Delhi High Court today extended the stay on the trial by general court martial (GCM) of Maj Gen Anil Sarup, who is facing trial for alleged irregularities in procurement of equipment for troops proceeding on a UN peacekeeping mission, till May 21, the officer has moved a fresh application contending that he is being "illegally" kept in military custody since being placed under arrest in August 2009.

A high court Division Bench had, on March 13, directed the Army not to proceed with the GCM till further orders. The GCM had assembled at Jalandhar in March but has since remained adjourned. Sarup, who has now retired, has contended before the HC that he has been kept under arrest at Yol Cantonment in Himachal in violation of law as Army Rule 27 states an accused can't be detained beyond three months unless sanction of the competent authority has been obtained. After retirement in 2009, he was asked to report at Yol for disciplinary proceedings and has since been in custody.

In March, he was moved to Jalandhar for the trial. Pursuant to HC orders, he was granted "leave" by the army for a few days for dealing with his HC case, but according to his counsel Col SK Aggarwal (retd), this is not release from custody and he now continues to be under open arrest for the duration of his leave. A reply by Army on contentions by Sarup in his petition and his rejoinder to the reply were taken up by the bench today. Sarup had contended that Army Rule 180 was not complied with during the disciplinary proceedings, thereby not giving him full opportunity to defend itself. He has claimed proceedings initiated against him were a result of professional rivalry for promotion to rank of lieutenant general and there were no irregularities in procurement. The Army has denied his contentions. Maj-Gen Anil Sarup of the Army Ordnance Corps is facing five charges under Section 52 and 63 of the Army Act.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/court-to-pronounce-orderdefamation-plea-against-army-chief/163714/on
Court to pronounce order on defamation plea against Army Chief
Delhi court is likely to deliver its verdict tomorrow on summoning Army Chief Gen VK Singh and four others
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Apr 25, 2012, 21:12 IST

A Delhi court is likely to deliver its verdict tomorrow on summoning Army Chief Gen VK Singh and four others, named as accused in a criminal defamation case by former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar would pronounce the order on the plea of Tejinder Singh, who had already recorded his statement and pre-summoning evidence in support of his complaint and had denied having made Rs 14 crore bribe offer to the Army Chief to strike a defence deal.
The court had on April 10 reserved its order on Tejinder Singh's complaint for April 21 but the magistrate did not hold proceedings on that day as he was attending a training session and the case was listed for hearing before another magistrate, who had reserved the order for tomorrow.

Tejinder Singh, a former director general of Defence Intelligence Agency, had filed defamation complaint against the Army Chief and four other Army officials trashing the allegations that he had offered the bribe for clearing a deal for 600 "sub-standard" vehicles.

Besides the Army Chief, he has named Vice Chief of Army Staff SK Singh, Lt Gen BS Thakur (DG MI), Major General SL Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney posted in the media cell, accusing them of misusing their official positions, power and authority to level false charges against him.

Tejinder Singh had contended that all the five officers formed a direct chain of command with the Army chief being the final arbiter.

During the last hearing, he had said that the allegation against him of having offered bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd, which supplies vehicles to BEML was absolutely "false, ill-founded and concocted".

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/have-cd-pointing-to-army-chief-role-in-phonetaps-tejinder-singh-tel.../941676/
Have CD pointing to Army Chief 'role' in phonetaps, Tejinder Singh tells SC
The controversy over the Army allegedly deploying off-the-air interception equipment in the capital (as reported in The Indian Express, March 4, 2012) has erupted again with the former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Lt General (retd) Tejinder Singh going to the Supreme Court with a petition asking for a CBI probe, and claiming that he is ready to hand over recorded conversations which, he claims, are evidence of this "grave illegal activity''.

Lt Gen. Singh is facing allegations of bribery by Army Chief General V K Singh in the Tatra truck case.

Yesterday, Lt Gen. Singh filed a 44-page writ petition in the apex court in which he demanded a "scrupulous'' probe by the CBI into allegations that "the Army Headquarters was carrying out illegal monitoring of mobile phone conversations of defence ministry officials and the defence minister''.

According to the petition, accessed by The Indian Express, the former DIA chief has told the Supreme Court that he wishes to submit a separate confidential statement, a CD, as well as transcripts of the conversations the CD purportedly contains in a "sealed cover".

The petition states that General V K Singh "unwittingly divulged to the petitioner his illegal scheme, designs and intention to carry out monitoring of mobile phone conversations of the defence ministry officials''.

Lt General Singh has also demanded a CBI investigation into what he calls the misuse of Secret Service funds by the Military Intelligence Directorate, since, as the petition states, "(this) finds mention in the recorded conversation contained in CD Mark 3 (to be) submitted in sealed cover.''

After listing (and annexing) a string of news reports on the allegedly illegal use of off-the-air or "passive'' interceptors, Lt General Singh's petition says that till date, the Government or the Ministry of Defence has chosen not to clear the name of the Army and that of its officers for alleged monitoring or snooping of mobile conversations of Defence Ministry officials by the Army HQ.

Later, it was the Army which issued a strongly worded clarification, pointing out that Lt General Singh, as DIA Chief, had been questioned on the alleged purchase of the interception equipment without sanction by the competent authority. The contents and circumstances in which the press release was issued is the subject matter of a criminal complaint filed last month by Lt General Singh in the Delhi High Court.

Besides alleging that he has been put through a "media trial and prosecution,'' Lt General Singh has alleged that the admission of the respondent (General V K Singh) that he had been keeping a "wary eye'' on him —- over the 18 months after the alleged bribe offer was made to him —- was a violation of his fundamental right of privacy.

He has alleged in the petition that the Army Chief was "possibly'' unauthorizedly tapping his phones and following him in public places.

Besides the Army chief, those named as respondents in the petition include the Defence, Home, Law and I&B Ministries, CBI and Col (retd) R S N Singh, a "close aide" of the Army chief.

'Gen. Singh monitored phones of MoD officials, Defence Minister'
Excerpts from petition by Lt Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh

* "From the confidential statement and CD Mark 3, it is clearly made out that (General V K Singh) actually or at least attempted to carry out illegal monitoring of mobile phone conversation of the Ministry of Defence official.

* "In an act amounting to criminal breach of trust, (Gen. Singh) has indulged in grave illegal activity against the Government established by law by illegally monitoring phone conversation of the Defence Ministry officials and of the Defence Minister."

* "Needs a thorough and scrupulous probe and investigation including examination of the Secret Service Fund of the Military Intelligence Directorate (which finds mention in the CD) by an independent investigating agency that is the CBI."

http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/360-todays-newspaper/60605-fewer-missiles-make-it-tough-for-iaf-to-secure-indian-akash-.html
Fewer missiles make it tough for IAF to secure Indian Akash
Indian Air Force's preparedness has been badly hit by inadequate supply of medium range surface-to-air Akash Missile. The IAF had planned to induct 96 Akash surface to air missiles last year, but could manage just 15.

Akash employs command guidance, real time multi-sensor data processing, threat evaluation and relies on phased array radar to guide the missile to intercept the target at a height of more than 20,000 feet.  Indigenously designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO), the missile was meant to  bolster the air defence capabilities of IAF and the Army.

In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in mid-March, Army chief General VK Singh had pointed to the poor state of air defence. Non-availability of surface-to-air missiles like Akash gave the enemy opportunity to exploit gaps in India's air defence.

At present, Army and IAF have  Russian-made Pechora and Osa-ak missiles, which were nearing the end of their operational life. On the other hand, countries like China and Pakistan had acquired latest missiles and air craft capable of piercing India's air defence cover.

The Government gave the nod two years back to the Army to raise two regiments of Akash missiles and eight squadrons for the IAF. One regiment has more than 200 missiles, and one squadron 125 missiles. The IAF order is worth over Rs1,200 crore while that of Army would cost over Rs14,000 crore.

The Bangalore-based Indian defence major Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) suffered heavy losses due to the short supply and production of the Akash missiles.

In a Press conference in Bangalore on Tuesday,  BEL chairman and Managing director Anil Kumar said the short supply of Akash missile system to IAF affected both the  top and the bottom line of the company, whose revenue grew just by 3.3 per cent to Rs5,710 crore (provisional) in 2011-12 as against Rs5,529.69 crore the previous year. However, BEL has targeted a revenue of Rs6,000 crore for the year.

Pointing out that BEL could provide only 15 missiles against the  target of 96, Kumar said the company was now under recovery process and would meet the target this fiscal.

"Technical snag encountered by a consortium partner led to defence electronics major Bharat Electronics, short supply of Akash Weapon System to the Indian Air Force, in the last fiscal," he said.

Kumar said the technical snag had since been rectified and the supplies would be completed by December 2012.According to him, BEL has obtained an order worth Rs3,125 crore for supply of Akash system to the Army.

A part of the  consortium of  six major companies, BEL is  a system integrator of the medium range missile.

Kumar said BEL is also eyeing for a larger share of the Rs 16,000 crore missile order of the defence by extending the expertise it had gained in Akash missile system.

'We are exploring opportunities in long rage surface-to-air missile, medium range missiles and short range missiles and variants for all the three services of Indian defence. BEL was already a lead integrator for Long range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Navy,'' the BEL chief said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday reviewed the overall security situation and took stock of implications of Pakistan testing its nuclear capable Hatf-IV long range missile. He also reviewed operational preparedness to deal with any threat with the three Service Chiefs in Delhi.

Pakistan launched the missile with a strike range of 750 km on Wednesday after India successfully test fires Agni-5 long range ballistic missile on April 19.  In the one-hour meeting, which was also attended by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, reviewed security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan as these two nations have direct strategic impact on India.

Antony was also informed about China's military preparedness and steps taken by the armed forces to counter the threat posed by the eastern neighbour.  The minister had urged the military top brass to take adequate steps on Tuesday in the backdrop of "China's strategic rivalry with India and Japan."

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/army-holding-war-games-in-rajasthan/941304/
Army holding war games in Rajasthan
Indian Army is conducting summer war games in deserts of Rajasthan with over 50,000 troops, artillery guns and aerial support from frontline fighter aircraft of Air Force.

Codenamed 'Exercise Shoorveer', the war-games are being spearheaded by the Jaipur-based South Western Command -- also known as 'Sapta Shakti Command' -- and will be reviewed by Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief General V K Singh in the first week of May, Army officials said.

"At present the formations are practicing their battle drills in designated training areas.... A number of field firings are being carried out to check the accuracy and lethality of the weapon systems," they said.

The exercise will provide a platform to validate new concepts, modifications, armaments and logistics inducted by the force in the last few years, they said.

"A large number of innovations and modifications carried out by the Army units and formations to enhance their combat power are being tested in the field," the officials said.

On participation of IAF, they said: "The momentum of training is gradually building up with the increased combat tempo to set the stage for a major joint Army-Air Force exercise."

The exercise will culminate with the Sapta Shakti Command along with IAF carrying out swift battle manoeuvres and joint operations, they said.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/army-to-conduct-may-queen-beauty-pageant/251969-60-116.html
Army to conduct May Queen beauty pageant
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:� Don't get surprised if you see sashaying beauties instead of a military parade at the Pangode Military Station, this summer. For the first time in the state, the Indian Army is conducting a beauty pageant on the lines of the coveted Navy Queen pageant of the Southern Naval Command. The Army Wives Welfare Association and Army Officers Institute are busy sorting out applications. One lucky girl would wear the 'May Queen' crown by the third week of May.

Just like the Navy Queen competition, Army too had invited applications from civilians. April 20 was the last date for sending applications. "We have received around 50 applications so far. Most of the applications are� from within the station. After an initial screening, the contestants would be selected to the finals to be held in the third week of May in Pangode. The preliminary screening would be held on May 5," Madhu R Shekar, Defence spokesperson said.

Organising such an event for the first time, the Army is confident of conducting the pageant on a regular basis in the coming years. Will the Brigadier dance for the event just like the SNC chief shook his leg for the Navy Ball?� "No, there won't be anything like that,"said the defence spokesperson.

Though other military stations are conducting beauty pageants for the past several years, such an event is taking place in the state for the first time. Army sources said the event would be organised in a grand fashion in the coming years.

�The title would be known as 'May Queen' just as 'Navy Queen' was known in its initial years. Army is yet to decide on the stages of the competition and the prize money. The organisers are looking for sponsors. Anyway, the military station in Pangode might have a 'cool' summer this time.

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