Jeep scandal case

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The Jeep scandal of 1948 was the first major corruption case in the Republic of India.[1] V.K. Krishna Menon, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, ignored protocols and signed a Rs 80 lakh contract for the purchase of army jeeps with a foreign firm.[2]


With the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948 ongoing, the Indian Army required more jeeps against the Pakistani Army. V. K. Krishna Menon, the Indian High Commissioner to Britain, placed an order for 2,000 refurbished Jeeps for the same price of new Jeeps that could be purchased from the United States or Canada. He argued that they would be delivered immediately with spare parts. The company assigned to deliver the Jeeps, the little-known Anti-Mistantes, had a capital of only £605. Krishna Menon agreed to pay $172,000, with 65% of the total payment upfront without any inspection certificate. He also agreed that only 10% of the Jeeps would be inspected. The earlier contract stipulated that 65% of the payment would be made upon inspection, 20% on delivery and the rest a month after delivery. Of the 155 Jeeps that arrived, none could be placed into service. The Defence Ministry refused to accept them, and Anti-Mistantes suspended delivery of the Jeeps. Menon, unable to contact it, entered an agreement with S.C.K. Agencies for 1,007 jeeps, with 68 being delivered monthly and the Indian government to be compensated for its loss from the older contract. Each jeep cost £458.10 while Anti-Mistantes sold a jeep for £300. Menon agreed to change the contract to stipulate that 12 jeeps would be delivered monthly for six months and then 120 jeeps would be delivered monthly. The company, however, supplied only 49 jeeps in two years and refused to compensate the government.[3] The payment of the jeeps by Britain was part of the British war debt to India dating back to the Second World War.[4]

Corruption allegations[edit]

Menon bypassed protocol to sign a deal worth Rs. 80 lakh to the foreign firm for the purchase of the jeeps.[5][6] Govind Ballabh Pant, the Home Minister and the Indian government announced on 30 September 1955 that the Jeep scandal case had been closed for judicial inquiry and ignored the suggestion by the Inquiry Committee, led by Ananthsayanam Ayyangar.[7] He declared that "as far as Government was concerned it has made up its mind to close the matter. If the opposition was not satisfied they can make it an election issue". Soon afterward, on 3 February 1956, Menon was inducted into the Nehru cabinet as minister without portfolio.[8][9] Later, Menon became Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's trusted ally as defence minister. However, there was no evidence to doubt Mr Menon's personal integrity. [10]

Mahatma Gandhi's personal secretary, U V Kalyanam, in a newspaper interview,[11] said, "It is pertinent to mention here that Nehru made corrupt colleagues like Krishna Menon, who was involved in the infamous 'jeep scam' while he was the Defence Minister".


  1. ^ "On Your Marks". Outlook. India. 1 February 2010. Archived from the original on 15 May 2013.
  2. ^ Paul, Dipankar (30 April 2011). "The Republic of Scams: Jeep purchase (1948)". MSN. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  3. ^ Ray, Jayanta Kumar (3 April 2013). India's Foreign Relations, 1947-2007. ISBN 9781136197147.
  4. ^ Cohen, Stephen P. (2010). Arming Without Aiming: India's Military Modernization. ISBN 9780815704027.
  5. ^ "Media support crusade against corruption". The Hindu. India. 18 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Scamstory". Outlook. India. 13 August 1997. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  7. ^ Noorani, Abdul Gafoor Abdul Majeed (1970). India's Constitution and Politics. Jaico books. Jaico Publishing House. p. 174. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  8. ^ Upadhyay, R. (30 March 2001). "Political Corruption in India: An Analysis". South Asia Analysis Group. Archived from the original on 18 December 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Worst political scandals of independent India". India TV News. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  10. ^ Viswanathan, S. "Media support crusade against corruption". Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  11. ^ Rao, G.V.R Subba. "Nehru, Manmohan to blame for graft". The Hindu. No. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015.