Army chief Singh courts fresh controversy
Slaps notice on a senior officer, hands over soldier to police
Days before his retirement, Army Chief Gen V K Singh has slapped a show-cause notice on one of the senior most Army officers, Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, and handed over a soldier to civilian police in contradiction to established Army practices.
Lt Gen Suhag is tipped to be one of the top contenders for Army Chief’s post after Lt Gen Bikram Singh, the show-cause notice by the departing Gen Singh could tilt the case against Suhag, currently heading three Corps in Dimapur.
Suhag was charged with “abdicated responsibility” in handling an intelligence and surveillance unit in a “most unprofessional and lackadaisical manner.” However, the exact nature of the operation and charges has been kept under wraps.
Lt Gen has been given seven days to respond to the notice. Army sources said the court of inquiry against Suhag took a long time after the incident came to light in December last year. The enquiry report reached the Army Headquarters in May after which Gen Singh issued the notice to Suhag considering his seniority.
For junior officers, such notices are issued by junior officers on Army Chief’s behalf.
In yet another controversial decision, Gen Singh ordered handing over of a soldier to the civil police in disturbed area in Assam despite objections from 3 Corps Headquarters. The action is contrary to long-standing Defence Ministry stand on protection of troops in disturbed areas.
The soldier, Havaldar Sandeep Thapa, was handed over to the police as there was a contempt of court involving him.
However, Brigadier General Staff (Operations) of 3 Corps Brigadier Abhey Krishna had wrote to his superior at the headquarters recommending that the individual may not be handed over to police as they have not requisitioned for the same.
In his letter, Brigadier Krishna also referred to the provisions of the AFSPA which provides protection to the troops.
Not satisfied with the reasoning given by the 3 Corps, Gen Singh on April 7 asked the Havaldar to be handed over to the civil police and sought a compliance report. Brig Krishna too was issued a show-cause notice.
However, the Defence Ministry has not yet been informed by the Army Headquarters about the action being taken by it against Suhag and others. But ministry officials said if someone had been wrongly punished, then the punishment could be corrected at a later stage.
Though the Defence Ministry does not call for a report on Army's internal matter, considering the seniority of Suhag and his chance to become an Army Chief after two years, the ministry may ask for a report.
Age row: Plea to reconsider SC order
The Supreme Court has been urged to reconsider its order dismissing a PIL relating to age row of Army chief Gen V K Singh, reports DHNS from New Delhi Haryana-based Grenadier Association through its president Col (rtd) B S Koshal sought the apex court to review the January 20 order, which had dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) as “not maintainable.”
Holding that the date of birth issue was purely a service matter, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia had also expressed its displeasure over the petitioner’s decision to annex opinions of former Chief Justices of India (CJI) and directed the court’s registry not to entertain any petition carrying such advises by former CJIs in future.
Calling the direction as “illegal, unconstitutional, arbitrary and without jurisdiction,” the review petition filed through senior advocate Prof Bhim Singh urged the apex court to set aside the order, which, it claimed, was violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioner as well as of those former CJIs. “This order deserves review as it amounts to casting aspersion on the integrity of retired judges,” it said.
The Association had sought a declaration that Army Chief’s date of birth was May 10, 1951 as mentioned in his SSLC certificate and not May 10, 1950 as claimed by the government.