Saturday, February 5, 2011

Senior naval officer Sukhjinder Singh sacked for sexcapades in Russia

New Delhi: The defence ministry has decided to sack Commodore Sukhjinder Singh for his sexual misdemeanours while he was posted in Russia as head of the Indian team overseeing the refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

`He will be discharged ... he will not be in service now. We have in principle taken this decision,’’ said defence minister A K Antony on Saturday.

This comes after the Navy submitted its recommendations after conducting a board of inquiry (BoI). The inquiry was initiated after Commodore Singh’s explicit photographs with a Russian woman surfaced in April last year.The Navy, however, still maintains Commodore Singh’s ``loose moral conduct’’ and indiscretions did not ``adversely impact’’ India’s position during the longdrawn wrangling with Russia over the 44,570-tonne carrier’s refit, which even led to a distinct chill in the bilateral defence relationship.

But with India last year finally agreeing to pay Russia as much as $2.33 billion for the refit, instead of the $974 million earmarked for it in the original contract inked in January 2004, doubts still persist that Commodore Singh could have been ``honeytrapped’’ to disclose India’s negotiating positions beforehand.

Incidentally, India will now get Gorshkov, rechristened INS Vikramaditya, only in early-2013. As per the original contract, the desperatelyneeded carrier was to arrive in India by August 2008.

The Navy says Commodore Singh’s ``transgressions’’ were ``personal in nature’’, which neither `influenced the performance of his official duties’’, nor compromised India’s position during the Gorshkov price negotiations with Russia.

Commodore Singh, an engineer, was posted as the Indian warship production superintendent overseeing Gorshkov’s refit in Russia from 2005 to 2007. Even after returning to India, he continued to remain deeply connected with the programme as the principal director (aircraft carrier project) at Navy HQ till at least mid-2009.

Commodore Singh was `relieved’’ of his posting in the defence ministry’s directorate-general of quality assurance after the BoI report indicted him last year.

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