Former Air India managing director Arvind Jadhav. (Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg)

CBI Books Former Air India CMD On Corruption Charges

The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked former Air India chairman-cum-managing director Arvind Jadhav for allegedly violating procedures while making various promotions and appointments, officials said on Wednesday.

Along with Jadhav, the CBI has also named former executive director (personnel) LP Nakhwa and former additional general mangers (operations) Arvind Kathpalia, Amitabh Singh and Rohit Bhasin in its First Information Report registered under the Indian Penal Code section related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI alleged that Jadhav had constituted a panel in 2010 to promote officers to the rank of general manager (operations) in violation of laid down procedure.

The three-member panel included then chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf, then executive director (operations) AS Soman and former executive director (personnel) LP Nakhwa, it said.

Nakhwa, who was general manager (medical service), was given the rank of executive director (medical services) after the post was upgraded as a temporary measure till Aug. 31, 2009.

It's alleged that Nakhwa was to be sent back to the post of general manager (medical services) from Sept. 1, 2009, but she continued in her position as executive director in clear violation of the Civil Aviation Ministry's directive dated March 6, 2009.

The CBI inquiry also found that Jadhav regularised Nakhwa in the post of executive director (medical services) with effect from Apr. 1, 2010 without following the due procedure, the FIR said.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had annulled and reversed the irregular appointment of Nakhwa as executive director (medical services), the CBI alleged.

A human resources sub-committee of the board of Air India in an order dated Sept. 8, 2010 reverted Nakhwa to the post of general manager (medical services) with immediate effect.

"Therefore, the promotion panel so constituted by Arvind Jadhav...for selecting suitable candidates for promotions to the post of GM (operations) should have been re-constituted in the wake of reversion of Nakhwa from executive director (medical services) to the rank of general manager," it said.

This was necessary as according to the promotion policy of Air India, members of promotion panel should be preferably two levels above the post for which the selection is to be made, which was not the case with Nakhwa who was of the same for which selection was to be made by the panel.

The investigating agency said although Nakhwa wasn't eligible for being a member of the said promotion panel, Jadhav nominated her against the prevailing rules and procedure.

The panel had called 15 additional general managers (operations) ranked candidates for the interview for the promotion to general manager (operations) and selected five candidates.

Additional General Mangers (Operations) Kathpalia, Singh, Bhasin, AK Gujaral and NK Beri were considered for promotion to the general manager (Operations) by the panel, the FIR said.

It's alleged there was a criminal case against Kathpalia, who was given vigilance clearance, a matter which needs further probe.

Bhasin and Singh, too, were having pending complaints against them yet they were cleared for promotion, the FIR alleged.

"Giving vigilance clearance to both the officers having complaint pending against them is irregularity and misconduct on part of unknown officers of Air India who dealt with this matter," according to the FIR.

Kathpalia, also a pilot, was removed as director of operations of Air India in November last year after allegedly failing to clear pre-flight alcohol test, with the government citing "serious nature of the transgression and (his) failure to course correct". However, the CBI isn't looking into this matter.

He had approached the Delhi High Court, which had had noted yesterday the police hasn't properly investigated the case of violating aircraft rules, including evading breath analyser test and forgery against him.

During the hearing, the court observed that merely because the pilot didn’t take the pre-flight alcohol test, there cannot be a presumption that he was drunk.

Kathpalia had claimed he was in a hurry to take the flight and due to shortage of time, he could not take the pre-flight breath analyser test.

He had earlier submitted before the court it cannot be presumed that just because he missed the breath analyser test, he was intoxicated.

Kathpalia had claimed he could not take the test as he was at work the whole day and was getting late for the flight.

The pilot had maintained that he voluntarily went for the post-flight breath analyser test after returning from Bengaluru in good faith, but the doctor on duty refused to administer the test and only asked him to sign on a register.