Ministry wants IB lens on key DGCA official
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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given the job of monitoring India's 40-odd flying schools to a former flying school chief whom the Civil Aviation Ministry wants scrutinised by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and who has been repeatedly red-flagged by the Home Ministry since 2002.
Capt Yashraj Tongia, a former managing director of Yash Air, the country's largest flying academy, took charge at DGCA this month as director, flying training.
The training chief at India's aviation safety regulator is responsible for regulating standards at flying academies, including granting approvals to schools and instructors. Following the 'fake' pilot licence scandal, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) asked DGCA to probe alleged irregularities committed by flying schools.
The Union Public Service Commission recommended Tongia's appointment in February 2011. When the appointment was delayed, Tongia moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) saying the delay was due to "extraneous, arbitrary and malafide reasons".
In March 2012, the principal bench of CAT cleared Tongia's appointment. The Civil Aviation Ministry did not, at that stage, oppose the appointment.
On May 25, following a fresh complaint received against Tongia two days earlier, the Civil Aviation Ministry directed DGCA to seek IB clearance for him. The offer of appointment should be issued "subject to verification of character and antecedents including IB to satisfy the CAT judgment", the ministry said.
The complaint — made by one Debashish Kant Roy to the ministry and the Prime Minister's Office — was forwarded to DGCA chief E K Bharat Bhushan, to whom Tongia reports.
Bhushan, however, informed Civil Aviation Secretary Dr S Nasim Zaidi that CAT had not specified IB clearance as a precondition for Tongia's appointment, and that the fresh complaint against Tongia could be investigated even after he has been appointed.
On May 29, Bhushan wrote to Zaidi: "There is no mention of a report from IB (in the CAT order). Hence it is to be considered whether introduction of (this) proviso, when we have to fulfill the direction of the Hon'ble CAT's order within a firm timeline, would merely serve the purpose of delaying the appointment, thereby inviting possible strictures from the court."
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