File on roadside: Antony says nothing compromised on MRCA deal

NEW DELHI: Defense Minister A K Antony has said “nothing sensitive was compromised” from the secret file on medium-multirole combat aircraft (M-MRCA) that was found on a roadside here and the suspended process to finalize the multi-billion dollar deal will be restarted.

The file related to the offsets clause in the M-MRCA deal had gone missing from the Defense Ministry and was later recovered from a roadside in the Khelgaon locality.

“We have received the (Defense Ministry) report. All the agencies including the Air Force have reported that nothing was compromised regarding the procurement of M-MRCA. So, hereafter M-MRCA (acquisition) process will again start,” the Minister said here.

He was talking to media after distributing prizes for the best cultural performances during the Republic Day ceremony.

After the incident, the IAF had ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) in December last year and submitted its report last week.

A separate inquiry was carried out by the Defense Ministry under an Additional Secretary-rank official and its report was also submitted to the Ministry recently.

The Defense Minister had asked all the three stakeholders including the IAF, Director General (Acquisition) and the Department of Defense Production to find out if the deal to procure 126 fighter jets was compromised with in any way due to the incident.

Talking about the present status of the deal, Antony said, “It will take some time. Who will get the deal, I can’t say now. The process has started again after the inquiry report was submitted and it will take a few more months.”

On the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Adarsh Society scam, he said, “CBI has given the report in sealed cover to the Mumbai High Court only. Let them give their official report to the ministry.”

Making it clear that the guilty will not be spared, Antony said, “That’s why we preferred a CBI inquiry. The moment we get the (inquiry) report we will take action.”

Asked if he was satisfied with the quantum of punishment given to Lt Gen P K Rath in the Sukna land scam court martial, the Defense Minister said, “the matter is being dealt with by Army and unless I see the reports I cannot say anything.”

A General Court Martial has ordered a loss of two years of seniority, 15 years of service for pensionary benefits and a ‘severe reprimand’ for Rath for granting No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to private realtors for building educational institutions on a piece of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.

-PTI

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