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Court decries improper government action against defence firms

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has pulled up the defence ministry for not following the proper course of law before blacklisting seven defence firms on corruption charges.

‘It has been eight months but the companies who were blacklisted do not know the reason for the government’s step,’ Justice S. Muralidhar said.

‘It is the basic principal of natural justice that at least the accused should know as to why he is being punished,’ the court said Thursday while asking the government counsel why a copy of the first information report (FIR) was not given to the companies that were blacklisted.

The court refuted counsel’s submission that the companies have the copy of the FIR with them and said: ‘No presumption can be drawn in such sensitive cases. If the case is registered then why has the police still not arrested anyone in the case?’

The court directed the defence secretary, who was present in the court, to first issue show cause notices to the companies and then follow the proper procedure for their blacklisting.

The petitioner, R.K. Machine Tools, is among the seven defence firms blacklisted last year after their names figured in a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and all dealings with them were ‘put on hold’.

The defence ministry’s decision came after the CBI registered a case against former Ordinance Factory Board director general Sudipto Ghosh in Kolkata May 17, 2009 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The seven companies were mentioned in the case.

R.K. Machine Tools moved the Delhi High Court last year seeking to know why the defence ministry had not taken any action against Ghosh.

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