New Delhi, June 11 (IBNS) The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday suspended Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) chairman and managing director VRS Natarajan following a recommendation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"The Government has put the CMD of BEML Shri VRS Natarajan under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation," said the MoD in a statement.
"The charge of CMD has been given to Shri P Dwarkanath, the senior most functional Director in BEML. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Shri Natarajan," said the statement.
The Defence Ministry on June 6 asked for explanations from Natarajan for serving legal notice for filing a defamation suit against former Army chief V K Singh for his alleged defamatory statements of Tatra truck issue.
The Ministry said it had not given any permission to Natarajan to serve legal notice to Singh.
"MoD has categorically denied giving permission to the CMD, BEML Shri VRS Natarajan to serve a legal notice for filing a defamation suit against General (Retd.) VK Singh," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a statement.
"The Ministry has asked Shri Natarajan to explain as to why he had made such a statement to the media," he said.
Natarajan held a press conference on June 1 to target Singh.
"The allegations were false and we have nothing to hide," he had said, adding that the retired Army Chief must apologize since he has damaged the reputation of the company.
"Deals with Tatra were transparent," he said.
The CBI had in April interrogated the BEML CMD in connection to the claims made by former Army Chief Genral VK Singh that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear substandard vehicles supplied by Tatra.
BEML produced the Tatra trucks for the Army with the transfer of technology.
Earlier, Czech vehicle manufacturer Tatra Vectra has denied that it had ever approached India's army to offer him a bribe in return of approving a contract for its trucks.
The controversy had surfaced after Singh, in an interview to a newspaper alleged that a retired army officer had approached him on behalf of a vehicle supplier and offered Rs 14 crores as a bribe to approve a tranche of 600 "sub-stanadard" trucks.
The allegations, that pointed towards Tatra, appeared even more inflammatory after the General added that 7,000 such vehicles were already in use in the army and that they had been sold over the years at exorbitant prices, without anyone questioning it.
Issuing a media release in the wake of the billowing controversy that has grabbed national headlines and stormed India's parliament, the Vectra group, which is the largest shareholder of the consortium Tatra Holding s.r.o. that owns Tatra, has refuted the charges of bribery.