The government-run Bharat Earth Movers Limited continues to do business with the United Kingdom-based Tatra Sipox, in spite of the latter facing a criminal case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The PSU sought a fresh lot of Tatra trucks, priced at Rs 59.6 lakh each, in July -- two months after the CBI filed its case against the company.
This fact was revealed in the Supreme Court during a hearing on Wednesday on Vectra chief Ravindra Rishi's petition to direct the CBI to withdraw a lookout notice issued against him and allow him to travel to the UK for medical treatment.
The apex court asked him to approach the trial court for relief.
Rishi's counsel Mukul Rohatgi revealed the new order placed by BEML to the UK firm for more trucks to stress on the point that the CBI was trying to brand him as an offender while the PSU has no problems in dealing with a firm which the agency wants blacklisted.
Rohatgi produced a letter of May 28 by a top BEML official, which had sought more Tatra trucks, as well as the UK firm's response -- seeking time up to January -- to meet the additional requirement.
The court did not entertain the evidence to grant any relief to Rishi. But this certainly raises questions about the CBI's claim that the UK firm is not a subsidiary of the Tatra company based in Czechoslovakia but a separate agency which cannot make any defence supplies since the rules permit purchase of defence material and equipment only from the original manufacturers.
The CBI's case contends that Rishi had created multiple agencies in UK and India in the name of Tatra Sipox to inflate the end price of the trucks. The question is now about how a PSU can continue conducting business with a person and his firm, which has been accused of such a crime, and is it because the accused has good relations with the defence ministry.