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DRDO tests positive for nepotism

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

At least 10 top scientists of the country's premier defence research agency, the DRDO, are accused of flouting rules and misusing their positions to recruit family members in the organisation.

Among the accused are M Natrajan, former scientific adviser to defence minister AK Antony and VK Saraswat, India's Missile Man and former DRDO chief.

Antony was apprised of the matter in November last year by Sameer Kumar Khare, joint secretary and chief vigilance officer (CVO) in the defence ministry.

Khare, in his report (dna has a copy), recommended "criminal action against top functionaries of DRDO for committing irregularities in the recruitment of officers/officials, including their kith and kin, in DRDO by misusing their position of power". Based on his report, Antony handed over the investigations to the CBI in November.

Apart from Natrajan and Saraswat, charged with nepotism, the other big names in the CVO's report are W Selvamurthy, former chief Controller, R&D, Arun Kumar, former director, recruitment & assessment centre (RAC), AK Bansal, former director, RAC, and Dr SM Veerabhadrappa, senior scientist (Sci G).

"The brazenness with which systems and procedures have been overridden, it would not be prudent to believe that these are isolated cases," Khare said in his report. "The malice may have spread to wider areas hence causing to raise doubts that the integrity of the whole recruitment systems as such might have been compromised. This situation warrants a comprehensive and thorough investigation of the recruitment system, structure and cases of criminal misconducts of similar nature, including the present cases, by the CBI."

Antony said in November: "Cases to be referred to the CBI for inquiry and further action. DRDO may be directed to put in place an appropriate recruitment system with adequate checks and balances. They may also consider bringing the system under the purview of UPSC."

All recruitments were done through the UPSC till 1982, after which DRDO's recruitment & assessment centre handled it.

The ministry had added that DRDO could also take a professional agency's help to come up with a foolproof recruitment system. "A target of putting in place a new system from the next financial year (2014-2015) may be fixed," Antony said.

Ravi Gupta, DRDO spokesperson, told dna that he could not comment as the CBI is investigating the matter. "But whoever has violated rules, should be brought to justice," he said.

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