The head of Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), a government-owned organisation that caters for the defence services, has been suspended over the probe into allegedly substandard Tatra multi-purpose trucks sold by BEML to the Army.
V R S Natarajan, BEML's chairman and managing director, was suspended today. Last week, he was issued a show-cause notice for slapping a defamation notice on recently retired Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh, who alleged that the trucks were of poor quality and that he was offered a bribe of Rs14 crore to clear their purchase. The ministry is irate that Natarajan filed a case without government permission.
Defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar told newspersons in Delhi today, "The government has put the CMD of BEML under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure a fair investigation. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Natarajan.
"The charge of CMD has been given to P Dwarkanath, the seniormost functional director in BEML."
Natarajan has said he respects the government's decision.
Bangalore based BEML supplies Tatra trucks to the Army. The Hemang Foundation, owned by entrepreneur Ravi Rishi, fully controls the UK-based Tatra Sipox, which after declaring itself as a "manufacturers' agent" entered into an agreement with BEML for supplying Tatra trucks to the Army.