New Delhi: Indian Army Chief General VK Singh on Thursday denied having received any summons from the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament asking all three service chiefs to appear before it on alleged irregularities in defence-run canteens.
"I don`t know about the PAC letter. I am not aware of it," Singh told reporters here on the sidelines of a book release function.
Defence ministry sources on Wednesday said the Navy, Air Force and the Army had not responded to the ministry when the three services were asked to provide accounts of the unit-run canteens to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). And that is why the PAC summoned the service chiefs.
The CAG in its report in August last year had criticised the services over the way Canteen Stores Department (CSD) and unit run canteens function and the lack of transparency in their accounting methods.
The military had defended its actions, saying the services had their own internal audit mechanisms to keep a watch on unit-run canteens.
There are some 3,600 unit-run canteens, which are set up on soft loans extended by the military, and operate from official military premises. The CAG report had found that the concessions given to the canteens resulted in a loss of Rs 441 crore to the government from 2002-03 to 2008-09.
The CAG report had also heavily criticised the existing methods of procurement by the CSD. The procedures ran the risk of cartelisation, the report had warned.
As per the procedures, the CAG can seek details from the ministry over alleged irregularities if any, and the defence secretary can attend to such calls by parliamentary committees. This is the first time that the PAC had summoned the chiefs of the three services.
The Army Chief said he was not aware "if there was an extra requirement for the (service) chiefs to" appear before the PAC.
Asked if he would appear before the PAC, Gen Singh said: "It depends on what the ministry wants us to do."