Category Archives: Ministry of Defence

Born inside the Union Home Ministry, I am SOP and here’s my story…

My name is Standard Operating Procedure. You can call me SOP.

You will hear about me whenever something goes terribly wrong or a tragedy strikes. Many carry the impression that my tribe is the cure to all ills.

Now I am not simply called SOP. That’s too generic. I have a special number assigned on file but mentioning that may make matters too technical.

Well, I was born as a two-page letter on August 3, 2010, at the hands of a clerk who worked for the then special secretary (internal security) Mr UK Bansal. In my early moments, I recall Mr Bansal sending me from his chamber located on the first floor of the North Block which houses the ministry of home affairs (MHA) to the headquarters of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) like the CRPF, Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

Why was I created and what was the message I carried?

Back in 2010, home minister Mr P Chidambaram was said to be serious in securing the Left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected areas. These were sizeable parts of central and eastern India where rebels from the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) were wreaking havoc. Once when I was lying on the desk at an office I heard how four months before I was born, Maoist rebels killed 75 men from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and one policeman in a single attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district!

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The government’s efforts however hit a roadblock when they realised that the local police forces in their states had neither the training nor the numbers to take on the Maoist insurgents who called the jungle their home. So, till the police could build themselves up, the CAPFs would help them with numbers and fire power. It was to be a partnership.

As time passed, Mr Bansal, a 1974-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre, wasn’t very happy about how this partnership was progressing. The CAPFs, which did not belong there, did not know the region or for that matter even the local language, felt like foreigners. The local police on the other hand did not suffer these disadvantages but they did not participate enough. The Maoists exploited this. They killed many of our men.

On my two pages, Mr Bansal had written that for every one policeman participating in an operation, two men from CAPFs would do so too, thus maintaining a ratio of 1:2. He revised it to 1:3 later for “any planned operation”. Only in case of an urgent operation could reduced police participation be allowed. You see the point he was making?

Have you wondered how many policemen participated in the “planned” operations to support road construction in Bhejji on March 11 and in Burkapal on April 24 where the CRPF lost 37 men? Two constables in Bhejji and one in Burkapal! This despite the MHA recently stating that there are “over 20,000 state police personnel” and “45,000 central forces personnel” posted in there.

People in power have no idea about my existence.

When journalist Jugal Purohit went about asking, here is what he found:

– Abhishek Meena, Superintendent of Police, Sukma: No such guidelines exist and no such guidelines can be adhered to.

– DM Awasthi, Special Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh: Such instructions can’t be followed.

– Sudeep Lakhtakia, Additional Director General, CRPF: I will have to check up.

– K Vijay Kumar, senior security adviser, MHA: You cannot have such rigidity.

– The spokesperson of the MHA did not offer any explanation.

This is my reality.

Someone sitting removed from the actual situation thought about me and pushed me down the throats of others who had their own ideas. Then when something went wrong, newer people came together and created newer SOPs. Lessons were seldom learnt. I remain forgotten.

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CRPF personnel killed when the Maoists detonated a landmine under the truck they were moving in. March 30, 2016 MAILAWADA in DANTEWADA DISTRICT. IMAGE SOURCE: Author 

Contrast this with our enemy who bears the name of a foreigner who died more than 40 years ago. That enemy deploys his tactics and remains guided by his doctrine even today. He hasn’t forgotten.

THIS PIECE FIRST APPEARED ON THE DAILYO PORTAL:

http://www.dailyo.in/voices/sukma-attack-maoists-crpf-sop/story/1/16963.html

To win against Maoists, repair the Home Ministry first. My piece.

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It was March of 2014 when in the jungles surrounding Koraput in Odisha, a police team spent a night in hiding, ready to attack Maoists who they knew were to cross a stream. By the morning, the team left empty-handed. “Later we realised the rebels did come short of crossing that stream when they spotted our footwear marks on the soil and quietly changed their path,” said the officer.

From field-level tactics to post-incident evaluation to carrying out studies on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), impairing drones and helicopters, the Maoists, anyone with any experience of the trade will tell you, make an honest attempt of their job.

Thus, for India’s home minister Rajnath Singh to accuse them of “cold-blooded murder” is a case of being poorly informed.

Nevertheless, the establishment has been jolted with the loss of 25 more personnel. Only last month, in the same state, the same district, the same force was routed by the same adversary. The guerrillas then killed 12. About 60 security personnel have been killed by the Maoists within the four months of this year.

Nothing hereon will matter more than the rectification at the top, inside the North Block where the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is expected to hammer into shape the contours of this fight. Yet its absurdities have gone unchallenged and unrepaired:

1. In a Parliamentary Committee report tabled on March 15, the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has been quoted as saying the government had no money to provide mine resistant vehicles to protect troops from Maoist mines. The committee was “constrained to observe that lack of financial resources is becoming a reason for casualty of valuable lives being lost in the battle against Left Wing Extremism”.

2. To deal with Maoist mines, the MHA told the Parliament it is ensuring the availability of more than one mine proof vehicle (MPV) per battalion. But it never told that its own guidelines (authorisation) hold that every battalion must hold between seven to ten MPVs.

3. The MHA also indirectly made the Jabalpur-based Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) look responsible for not producing enough MPVs. Why did the MHA not float a global tender if the OFB was slow? Minister of State in-charge of the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) desk, Hansraj Ahir said his government hadn’t given the idea a thought yet.

4. On April 12, replying to a host of Members of Parliament (MPs), Ahir patted himself on the back for year on year reduction of casualties of troops as if this conflict was about numbers alone. In the same deliberation, Ahir when asked about the modernised combat support and technology his government had brought to the troops said the troops now had helicopters and drones!

5. The efficacy/availability of drones comes under doubt when it hasn’t helped the CRPF pick any signs of back-to-back, massive ambushes which the Maoists laid barely 2km outside its camps! It also points to a breakdown of communication with the local community – the very people the CRPF is there to normalise the situation for.

6. Problem of poor leadership by the MHA compounds when it comes to CRPF, a force with lethal disconnect between the top and the bottom. That the MHA has kept the CRPF headless for nearly two months says so much.

7. Unfortunately the MHA and the CRPF have made a habit out of ducking from questions. Having covered the issue, I know the approach has the green signal from powerful quarters

8. With little to show in terms of deftly handling the Kashmir situation, the MHA finds itself in a corner. It simply does not have the troops it needs to strengthen its presence in the LWE states where the deployment is as such thin.

While the top fumbles with hardly any accountability, those on ground will pay with their lives for one wrong step taken.

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A little-known success story that emerged for the US Marine Corps from Vietnam, documented in The Tunnels Of Cuchi by Tom Mangold and John Penycate, may hold relevance here.

A harassed young officer, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver, discovered how the native communist fighters were using underground tunnels to hit his troops and evade. Since the Americans had no experience in dealing with the tunnel menace, he took it upon himself to painstakingly learn and teach his battalion ways to identify bunkers, probe them and only upon completing this “course”, he sought the permission to launch an “operation”.

His troops seized the area, physically searched the ground for holes, any tell tale signs and kept up till 89 of the 92 guerillas operating there were killed, captured or had surrendered.

(THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED AT THE DAILYO PORTAL – http://www.dailyo.in/politics/26-crpf-maoists-die-sukma-bastar-home-ministry-failure/story/1/16839.html)

SINO-INDIAN BORDER: After years of escalation, the unmarked line is cooling down. I report.

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Story appeared in MAIL TODAY on December 30, 2016

2 MINUTE VIDEO explaining the story: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/india-china-border-violation-chinese-military-indian-defence-lowered-down/1/845499.html

PRINT REPORT: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/indian-chinese-soldiers-border-violations-lac-cheshul-depsang-ladakh-itbp/1/845300.html

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AFTER URI & BEFORE SURGICAL STRIKES: The Kashmir I saw

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It is early morning in Handwara town in north Kashmir

LONG STORY (30 minutes) AIRED ON INDIA TODAY TV ON OCT 1 & 2, 2016:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/programme/line-of-control-uti-attacks-army-pakistan-terror/1/777747.html

WHEN I WENT TO THE LAST VILLAGE BEFORE THE LoC:

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Youth in the village of Naogam Patwari assembled when they saw us, the ‘Indian media’.
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Condition of the village road left a lot to be desired. People told us that barring the army, they simply had no one to rely on.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/loc-kashmir-naugam-patwari-infiltration-bid/1/771085.html

MY DISPATCH FROM THE LoC – THREE DAYS BEFORE THE SURGICAL STRIKES:

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Somewhere along the Line of Control, Border Security Force personnel stand guard

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/uri-attack-india-fortifies-border-positions-loc-pakistan-terrorists/1/773061.html

LCA TEJAS: IAF’s new ‘Flying Daggers’ which 33 yrs later still have some distance to cover

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has fixed July 1 as the tentative date for a home-coming it has long awaited. A squadron of the indigenously designed and built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be commissioned and thereafter join the ranks of frontline jets like Sukhoi 30MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 among others in securing the Indian airspace. The event, which will be held in Bengaluru, however, is far from receiving the kind of attention it should.

And there are reasons.

To begin with, a typical IAF fighter squadron will consist of 16-17 jets and one or two trainers of the same aircraft. In the present case, the IAF has merely two aircraft from the series production which are ready and available. There is a third one too nearing completion but it may not make it on the given date.

That however is a smaller mountain to climb.

INDIA TODAY has learnt that there are uncertainties in validating the production set up of the LCA. While the IAF would like to have 16 aircraft a year, the infrastructure to deliver even eight is untested.

VIDEO OF THE STORY: 

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/iaf-facing-challenges-over-commissioning-first-tejas-squadron-in-bengaluru/1/701139.html

T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the manufacturer of the aircraft, said, “We have established manufacturing infrastructure in Bengaluru for production of eight LCA per annum. The rated capacity would be achieved once the Standard Of Preparation (SOP) is frozen by ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency).” SOP in simpler terms is the configuration, design and a host of other technical specifications which unless frozen, the maker cannot start serial production. He added, “HAL has submitted a proposal to the Defence Ministry to ramp up the rate of production from eight aircraft to 16 per annum. HAL is planning to establish the facilities within three years from the date of approval.” When asked the IAF and ADA denied that SOP was an issue any longer.

CD Balaji, Director ADA said, “Updates will keep taking place as the aircraft is flown more often. To say that the design isn’t frozen and that it is delaying everything is not correct.”

Is the road ahead only about building factories and fighter planes inside its walls?

A source closely linked to the project explained, “IAF has achieved what can be called as interim satisfaction. We won’t send the LCA to the front if there is a war tomorrow. But we have to start flying it and getting involved with it. May be in a year or two, we would have fine-tuned the plane.” He also shared that in the subsequent versions the IAF is looking at acquiring Air to Air refueling capability, firing of advanced weapons, utilizing a lighter LCA with a more powerful engine from the present F404-GE-IN20 among other things. “Maintenance is still a major issue with Tejas,” he revealed.

The first lot of 20 LCA Tejas, to which the two available aircraft belong, is being built in what is called as Initial Operational Clearance configuration. It is a stage that the development programme achieved in December 20, 2013. It was to have later achieved the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) but it hasn’t. It is likely to achieve the same by the March 2017. With that done, 20 more LCA will be built in that configuration. From there on production of LCA Tejas Mark 1 will cease and 80 aircraft of Mark 1A configuration, the aircraft the IAF is really eyeing, will have to be made and proven. Few can or are willing to speak about timelines, quite naturally.

Defence Ministry’s statement to Parliament last year put the figure incurred on the LCA programme at Rs 7399.69 crore. The total outlay including the naval variant is estimated at Rs 14033.2 crore.

Calls for parallel certification and production for the future LCA are growing. So is the clamour for a robust and export-oriented production line for the aircraft.

Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), “What is happening may look odd in terms of squadron strength but in the long run it will all be worth it if we learn from our mistakes of which we have made many.”

WHAT IS LCA TEJAS?

  1. Following the last flight of the indigenously made Hindustan Fighter (HF) 24 in 1961, need was felt to build an indigenously designed fighter
  2. In 1984 Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was formed to manage the LCA programme
  3. First flight flown on January 4, 2001
  4. Total test flights flown till date – 3184
  5. Can fly at heights up to 50,000ft
  6. Maximum speed can exceed the speed of sound (1300kmph)
  7. Wingspan 8.20m
  8. Length 13.20m
  9. Height 4.40m
  10. Weight 6560kg

FIRST WOMEN FIGHTER PILOTS: Account of a day unlikely to be ever forgotten

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On a cool, crisp morning, everyone looked to the sky and prayed. It would rain, the weatherman had warned.

As those gathered at the tarmac readied themselves to witness the ‘Combined Graduation Parade’ of the 197th course at the Air Force Academy (AFA), it was clear that this would be no ordinary affair. From the enhanced visitor count to the commensurate security detail to the handful broadcast vans of news networks to the curiosity in its run up, the distinction was measurable in more ways than one.

Before the day could mature any further, it was over.

At 9am, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced, reading from a written speech, “It is a red letter day. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted three women pilots as fighter pilots”. Before ending his five-minute speech which was followed by the young officers taking oath and then marching off, he paused and said, “Yours is the noblest and most honourable of all professions.”

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The crowd seated before the iconic Sekhon block was in rapt attention and history, as the cliché goes, had been made.

Reflecting back at the last six months during which Flying Officer Mohana Singh, one among the three women fighter pilots, not only made the decision to opt for the fighter stream mid-way through the course but also worked hard at her training, her mother Manju Singh said, “She did not discuss too much. She hardly had time. The training must have been very intense. Yes, there were moments of stress and when she told me so, I told her she had made her choice and that she should believe in herself”.

On October 8 last year, during his customary Air Force Day parade address, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said something which despite years of litigation and activism could not be said. The IAF, he mentioned, was opening its doors in a manner unprecedented. It was planning to induct women as fighter pilots. Raha conveyed a radical shift in the softest of terms the impact of which will be felt for decades to come.

The words even resounded in the distant Dundigal where inside the 6700-acre campus of the AFA, then flying cadets Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth picked them up. The trio, a part of the 197th course, was inching closer to completing their ‘Stage One’ training which included among other things successfully completing 55 hours of flying the Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) Pilatus.

A beaming Bhawana recounted, “To share a secret, I always wanted to be a fighter pilot but when we joined the option was not there. So when it came to us in December 2015, I knew I was going to grab it with both my hands.”

The three volunteered, as the regulations required.

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IAF’s evaluation of their physical and mental aptitude, which the force insists has been gender neutral, found them fit. In the next stage, which culminated in today’s ‘Combined Graduation Parade’, the trio, along with 90 other flying cadets successfully completed their ‘Stage Two’ which also involved flying the vintage Kiran intermediate trainer aircraft for 87 hours.

Will the IAF’s women fighter pilots, once qualified, carry out cross-border raids, should the situation so demand? How will the country respond if one of them were to be captured as Prisoners of War (PoWs)?

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Parrikar was not his usual direct self while answering.

He said, “I see no reason why they can’t do what their male counterparts can however their numbers will be relatively lower.” Standing in a corner, DP Chaturvedi, an engineer in the Madhya Pradesh government and Flying Officer Avani’s father took the question head on, “It was my daughter’s call. Her natural instincts propelled her and we will always admire her. I am a firm believer of the Gita. What is in the destiny will happen and nobody can stop what is destined”.

When the final round, ‘Stage Three’ commences, it will require the Flying Officers to report at the air force station in Bidar, Karnataka. Their next examination will be on the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawk. It promises to be the longest of all and will take about a year to overcome. If they fail, the dream of flying the fighter will die. “Whether male or female, if the officer does not qualify the stage in that one attempt then the fighter stream is not for them. The IAF may, based on a variety of factors, allow them to qualify for transport or helicopters, but not fighters,” clarified Air Marshal GP Singh, AFA Commandant.

For now, the trio and their 127 course-mates have earned themselves a break, ranging between two to four weeks.

How heavy is the burden of being who they’d now become?

Avani was quick on the response. “There are many women pilots who have flown Pilatus and Kiran before us. Till now, we have not done anything special. What we will now do will be special and we hope we will do good,” she replied.

The fighters indeed are firmly on the ground.

(http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ground-report-feet-firmly-on-the-ground-indias-women-fighter-pilots-take-off/1/695326.html)

VIDEO LINKS FOR THE STORY: 

AGUSTAWESTLAND: MoD’s quiet U-TURN in Italy that left even top law officers guessing. I write.

STORY ONE – May 30, 2016

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Attorney Gian Luca Grossi who was hired by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) inside his Milan office

In June 2013, it was a hard fought victory which came against a battery of Italy’s top defence lawyers. The court granted India the position of a civil party in the corruption proceedings against the top bosses of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. By this, India got involved, got the right to seek damages and secured access which was unavailable till then. On April 28, this year, calling corruption as the ‘core issue’,  the Ministry of Defence (MoD) swore to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in pursuing the wrong doers.

In all of this, what the MoD did not announce or explain was its decision to quit the Italian judicial process altogether. This implies India neither remained a party nor qualified for damages.

In February 2015, India decided to not challenge a lower court order in Italy which in October 2014 declared there was no corruption in the case.

Speaking exclusively to India Today, Attorney Gian Luca Grossi, who represented the MoD at the lower court at Busto Arsizio where the trial went on from June 19 2013 to October 9 2014 said, “MoD was civil party in the trial, in the first stage in Busto Arsizio. It came in only at the end of the first trial there. Then India decided to not go ahead with the appeal. Lower court gave a clear verdict saying there was impossibility of bribery. MoD decided to quit the trial. I don’t know why, but they decided to quit. I respect that.”

When asked what did he advice the MoD, he said, “I think our advice was to stay on, stay inside also in the second degree at the Tribunale (Court of Appeal). I told them I was not confident (about their exit). It wasn’t a very easy decision but 51 per cent I would have stayed against 49 per cent to pull out. He added, “If I had the choice in my hands, I probably would’ve (stayed). When you make a choice, take a path, even if you find some problems in walking, you have to go ahead, you have to go ahead.”

In the sentence of the Milan Court of Appeals of April 7, 2016, MoD is shown as a ‘non appelante’ – a party which had not appealed. This fact was also confirmed by the prosecution there.

INDIA LOST CHANCE TO WIN ‘HUGE’ COMPENSATION

According to Attorney Grossi, who still is shown as the MoD’s attorney as per the April 7 sentence, India lost out on a chance to not just secure a moral victory by being a party when the recent order came out but also monetary compensation.

“If you want your money back, you go the civil court. If you want to secure reputation and restoration, then you go to the criminal one,” he said. In effect, India went to the criminal court and opted against going to the civil one.

What would have happened had India continued in the case?

“Our request in the trial stage was not allowed. We had asked damages but the court did not allow because the bribery angle was not proven then. So if the bribery is not proven then how can there be compensation? The tax authorities made the accused pay the difference and that was it. If we were in the case now, we would have had compensation. I do not know how much, I don’t think it was a huge one,” he replied.

Describing the hectic nature of consultations in the days prior to India’s opting out, he said, “We had a deadline to participate in the appeal. It was February 21 2015, the deadline. So we heard each other on some occasions but till the date, we did not get in.”

Former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony had accused the present government of trying to aid Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland by allowing a backdoor entry into India markets, something the government has vehemently denied. In July 2014, the NDA had, its ministers claimed, put on hold all acquisition and procurement cases involving Finmeccanica and allied firms.

As per a statement in the Parliament by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, while the MoD had made an advance payment of Euro 250.32 million to AgustaWestland, only Euro 199.62 million was recovered after a deduction of Euro 50.70 million for the three helicopters India took the delivery of.

“In addition, the government also suffered an estimated loss and damages of Euro 398.21 million on account of cancellation of the contract with AgustaWestland International Limited (AWIL),” Parrikar had said.

Defence Ministry spokesperson while responding to the issue said, “We went by the advice of Solicitor General in this case and pulled out. Our goal in becoming a party in the lower court was to get access to evidence and documents. We did get that. Joining the appeal would not have yielded much. Government of India goes by Solicitor General’s advice and not by the lawyer on record.”

HERE’S WHAT ATTORNEY GROSSI SAID:

Can the MoD get into the appeal in Italy’s Supreme Court?

Till May 22, there is time to appeal and participate in the third stage of the trial. But we are not in it, the MoD is not anymore. We quit. We did not go to the second stage.

On middlemen Haschke, Gerosa and Christian Michel

Michel was slightly away from the scene when compared to Mr Haschke and Gerosa who were arrested and brought to the court. Using wiretapping technique, their roles were elaborated but not so for Michel. The public prosecutor said Haschke had applied for plea bargain. Haschke is approaching 70, he is old. When you are old and since there are multiple levels of appeals in courts, it is normal for many to admit their guilt. I can not talk more about his choice. He basically negotiated the penalty, his criminal responsibility, be it pecuniary or jail by replacing it with compensation, community work.

Did Finmeccanica and AgustsWestland also negotiate a plea bargain?

Within Italian rules, if the crime is committed in the interest of the company the company is punished. They prefer to pay the damages. They did like what Haschke did. A plea bargain is what AgustsWestland did though I do not remember how much.

It was said that India’s MoD did not cooperate with Italian judicial process. What was your experience like?

Italy has given many things to the CBI, however, the Letter Rogatory (LR) issued by the Italians was not specific. The request was vague and difficult. There are military secrets and matters of sensitive nature. If you do not know what exactly you are asking then confusion comes up. If you ask for tender documents, what all to give? When you don’t know, you ask for everything. My own experience was good. I do not know. MoD was there to defend its reputation. I have often heard this question being asked. If you have to safeguard you have to remain a party. We went to all the hearings together. Couple of people from the MoD and people from mission would sit through. Long hearings, somedays all through. I was there with people from MoD and those from the Consul General.

AS APPEARED ON INDIA TODAY:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/agustawestland-govts-u-turn-in-italy/1/680910.html

 

STORY TWO – June 10, 2016

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD), after fighting hard to become a party to the Italian legal proceedings in their case against Finmeccanica and its firm AgustaWestland, quietly quit the process in February 2015. In doing so, MoD chose to not appeal against the accused and lost out an opportunity to seek monetary compensation.

While justifying the actions of the MoD, the spokesperson said it was the Attorney General (AG) who advised them in February 2015 and the ministry ‘proceeded accordingly’. The ministry had earlier said the advice to quit was given by the Solicitor General (SG). Upon asking, both these authorities denied ever giving such an advice.

The question that emanates from this is what prompted the MoD’s move to pull out?

Speaking to this correspondent in his Milan office Attorney Gian Luca Grossi who represented the MoD at the lower court at Busto Arsizio where the trial went on from June 19, 2013 to October 9, 2014 said, “MoD was civil party in the trial, in the first stage in Busto Arsizio. It came in only at the end of the first trial there. Then India decided to not go ahead with the appeal. Lower court gave a clear verdict saying there was impossibility of bribery. MoD decided to quit the trial. I don’t know why, but they decided to quit. I respect that.” When asked what did he advice the MoD, he said, “I think our advice was to stay on, stay inside also in the second degree at the Tribunale (Court of Appeal). I told them I was not confident (about their exit). It wasn’t a very easy decision but 51 per cent I would have stayed against 49 per cent to pull out. He added, “If I had the choice in my hands, I probably would’ve (stayed). When you make a choice, take a path, even if you find some problems in walking, you have to go ahead.”

In the sentence of the Milan Court of Appeals of April 7, 2016, MoD is shown as a ‘non appelante’ – a party which had not appealed.

According to Grossi, India lost out on a chance to not just secure a moral victory by being a party when the recent order came out but also monetary compensation. “If you want your money back, you go the civil court. If you want to secure reputation and restoration, then you go to the criminal one,” he said. In effect, India went to the criminal court and opted against going to the civil one.

When INDIA TODAY approached AG Rohatgi, he initially sought time to respond. Reverting at a later date Rohatgi said, “I have advised the MoD on aspects pertaining to blacklisting of various companies under the Finmeccanica umbrella but in so far as the issue you are raising, I have no recollection of having done so.”

Since in one of the responses the MoD had named the SG as the one who advised them, he too was approached. SG Ranjit Kumar too distanced himself from the issue. He said, “The matter never came to me nor have I given any advice.”

Earlier, the Defence Ministry spokesperson had stated, “Our goal in becoming a party in the lower court was to get access to evidence and documents. We did get that. Joining the appeal would not have yielded much.”

THE BLAME GAME

Former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony had accused the present government of trying to aid Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland by allowing a backdoor entry into India markets, something the government has vehemently denied. In July 2014, the NDA had, its ministers claimed, put on hold all acquisition and procurement cases involving Finmeccanica and allied firms.

As per the recent statement in the Parliament by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the MoD had made an advance payment of Euro 250.32 million to AgustaWestland, only Euro 199.62 million was recovered after a deduction of Euro 50.70 million for the three helicopters India took the delivery of. “In addition, the government also suffered an estimated loss and damages of Euro 398.21 million on account of cancellation of the contract with AgustsWestland International Limited (AWIL),” Parrikar said.

AS APPEARED ON INDIA TODAY:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/exclusive-mod-quit-agusta-trial-in-italy-as-attorney-general-adviced-ag-rohatgi-differs-says-no-recollection/1/688945.html