Chiefs of Army, Air Force to appear before PAC tomorrow

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) In perhaps the first instance ofits kind, chiefs of the Army and the Air Force will appearbefore Parliament''s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tomorrowin connection with alleged irregularities in the canteenstores supplies.

Army Chief V K Singh and Air Chief P V Naik have saidthey would appear before the PAC headed by senior BJP leaderMurli Manohar Joshi.

The Navy would be represented by Vice Chief D K Deewan,as chief Nirmal Verma is in Indonesia on a "pre-scheduled"four-day visit which began on Sunday.

The armed forces have decided to stick to their standthat their Unit Run Canteens (URC) are beyond the purview ofthe PAC.

"We still maintain that URC is beyond their purview. Thatis the basic issue on which I presume the hearing orquestioning will take place. We have given our replies to themand let us see how it goes tomorrow," Naik told reportershere.

The Army chief had already made it clear that he would beappearing before the Parliamentary Committee tomorrow.

"We have no problem in appearing before the PAC. We arefollowing the directives of the Defence Ministry. I willappear before the PAC on January 12," Singh had said.

"We all must remember one thing that we all are subjectto Parliament. That is the system of our governance. Nobody isexempt," Air chief Naik said.

The PAC had called the chiefs of the three defenceservices for a hearing tomorrow based on a CAG report whichhas pointed out irregularities in the supply chain managementof rations by CSD.

The Defence Ministry, which received the communication,advised the service chiefs to appear before the PAC apparentlyto underline the committee''s immense significance at a timewhen the government is seeking to project it as a body asimportant as the Joint Parliamentary Committee followingOpposition demand for JPC into 2G spectrum issue.

Usually the Defence Secretary attends meetings of theParliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of theServices.

Highlighting the irregularities in the Canteen StoresDepartment, the CAG had said, "The existing procedure forprovisioning of dry rations failed to assess the requirementrealistically. The failure was mainly due to systemicdeficiencies due to which different quantities were worked outat different echelons applying different parameters...."

The report had said that the risk of existence of"cartels" affecting the quantity and quality of rations is tooserious to be ignored.

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