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Former Naval chief, retd Army officers ask PM to set up commission to probe corruption charges in Armed Forces

PTI 06 Aug 2012, 15:35:07 IST
New Delhi, Aug 6 : Former Naval chief retired  Admiral L Ramdas, several retired army officers and the former CEC N Gopalaswamy have in a joint letter to the prime minister have demanded the setting up of a three-member independent commission to look into allegations of corruption in the Armed Forces which, they said, were affecting the morale of the rank and file.

Retired Admiral Ramdas has also requested the Prime Minister to reconsider the Army Chief's decision to promote Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag to the poisition of an army commander.

In a letter sent on June 19 this year to the PM, the retired Admiral has alleged that Gen Bikram Singh by promoting 3 Corps commander Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag to the position of an Army Commander has strengthened the notion of “line of succession” and also failed to demonstrate his impartiality.

Gen Singh, after taking over as the Army Chief in June this year, had overturned the decision of his predecessor and lifted the Discipline and Vigilance (D&V) ban on Lt Gen Suhag, who may head the Army in 2014, reports Indian Express.

Retired Admiral Ramdas has requested the Prime Minister to appoint an independent three-member commission to conduct a probe into recent developments concerning the Army, including allegations of corruption made against senior Army officials and irregularities in the defence equipment procurement process, to check deeper malaise within the system.

Admiral Ramdas told the newspaper that the Prime Minister's Office has forwarded his complaint to the Ministry of Defence for “appropriate action”.

The signatories to the complaint include former civil servant M G Devashyam, former CEC N Gopalswami, Lt Gen P C Katoch (retd), Lt Gen O S Lochab (retd) journalist Sam Rajappa and Maj Gen Ashok Kalyan Verma (retd).

Citing low morale in the armed forces, Admiral Ramdas said, “There is a widespread perception that while the rank and file are subjected to severe disciplinary action for even minor offence, those on high posts with the right connections can get away with anything.

"Not only is this reflected in the most recent appointments to the highest offices within the Army, but also, and more seriously, has led to the disturbing view, circulating at many levels, that it is not worth fighting for a country that is in the grip of corrupt and conniving characters.”

Ramdas and other eminent personalities had recently moved the Supreme Court against the appointment of Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Chief of the Army staff.

The petitioners had questioned his ability to command 1.3 million strong Army, citing his alleged involvement in a fake encounter and UN peace keeping operations in Congo.

The apex court had, however, dismissed the PIL, prompting petitioners to file a review plea in the SC, on the basis that the government had misrepresented and suppressed facts.

Admiral Ramdas, in his complaint, has also criticised former Army Chief Gen J J Singh for his “unfortunate TV interview”.

There is a “deeper malaise within the system — indicating years of brushing uncomfortable questions under the carpet.

Within the Army, matters came to a head with the initiation of a so called ‘line of succession' in 2006, which in turn seems to have triggered the needless controversy over the date of birth of one COAS, in order to install another as COAS in 2012”.

However, Gen J J Singh has denied all allegations about the line of succession.