Charges against army officers to be verified by CBI
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has come on board to verify a complaint by the Defence Ministry which sought a probe into accusations that 2 Major-Generals had assets superfluous to their existing sources of income. The officers under the scanner are Maj.Gen. Ashok Kumar (Kolkata) and Maj.Gen. S.S. Lamba (Delhi). It will also review criteria for promotions made by the Special Promotion board.
The Indian Army with a strength of almost 1.2-million men is known for its "steeply pyramidal structure" at the top ranks. The promotions till the rank of the Lieutenant-Colonel are time bound- "first three promotions are almost automatic if you have completed the required service." The promotions from Colonel rank and upwards "are merit-based and are decided by a Promotion Board."
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ordered an inquiry into the allegations of nepotism in promotions to the rank of Lieutenant-General. The case involved the suggestions of the Special Promotion Board which was appointed to fill three vacancies for the posts of Lieutenant-General. 33 officers were considered for the posts and allegations of bribery surfaced which led to the Ministry ordering investigations.
The two officers who have been accused in the disproportionate assets case have been awarded the Ati Vashist Seva Medal (AVSM) for distinguished service in 2015.
The Ministry of Defense ordered the probe acting on the complaints of various officers. The promotions had been approved during Military Secretary Lt. General R. Bhalla's tenure. Some factions of the military have accused the appointing officer of being corrupt. Ministry sources informed the media that Lt. General R. Bhalla who is now retired "will also be examined by the CBI" if required.
One of the Major-Generals has previously faced a CBI inquiry earlier over bribery charges in a Border Roads Organisation (BRP) project. However, he had been let off because of lack of evidence. Though the officer in question had got the "vigilance clearance for the next rank" as there were no charges, it became the prime reason for the matter to be referred to CBI.