Row over idea of Code of Conduct for Army veterans

Photo for representation.

Senior retired officers of the armed forces including a former Navy Chief on Tuesday came down heavily on the Army headquarters proposal of having a Code of Conduct for the veterans.

"Let us, first implement an Honour Code or Code of Conduct for our serving senior officers. Keeping 'arm's length' from political posturing should be one of the key result areas," tweeted Admiral Arun Prakash, former Navy Chief.

Veterans made to sign such a code could not stand in any court of law because it would be deemed as having been signed under duress, wrote Lt Gen Prakash Katoch (retd) in an article in Fauj India magazine.

Prakash and Katoch are the latest to join a growing band of discontented senior officers, who are upset with the government's idea of introducing a Code of Conduct for the retired men in uniform.

The row was triggered by the outgoing Adjutant General Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar who on the last day of his service (Oct 31) disclosed the plan in a television interview.

The military law officer argued that since the armed forces personnel were allowed to keep their ranks even after their retirement, they would follow the code.

“We are in the process of putting up some methodology under which when people retire, they must give some kind of undertaking on code of ethics, which they must abide with. Very advanced deliberations are going on," Kumar said in the interview.

The former AG observed that it was a tri-service issue and the recommendations would go through various tri-service committees. 

Of late the armed forces have come under severe criticism for its stand on the misuse of income tax exemption on the disability pension, setting a limit on the prices of cars sold at the Defence Ministry's Canteen and Stores Department and opening up of cantonment roads.

"The real reason for demanding Code of Conduct is to see that skeletons remain safe in cupboards. The clear intent is to muzzle the veterans from freedom of expression," wrote Katoch.

The veteran Para officer also pointed out that what had been planned by the Army headquarters was "unconstitutional" and done at the best of the "deep state" within the government.

"This is a silly idea - not befitting the men who lead our Army if it intends to mute criticism," tweeted BJP lawmaker Rajeev Chandrasekhar. 

Many other retired aired their anger on social media platforms.

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