Gen. N.C. Vij provided “protection umbrella”, Gen. Deepak Kapoor “ill advised” to take flat, govt should use Adarsh for military housing, probe report says.
In a severe indictment, a defence ministry inquiry report has held 10 of the most senior officers of the military – including two Army Chiefs who were serving at that time – guilty for playing a central role in the Adarsh housing society scam, recommending that they be debarred from holding any government position or office for shaming the armed forces.
A strongly worded, detailed report by an inquiry committee set up by the defence ministry following an order from the Bombay High Court in April 2016, places a bulk of the blame on former Army Chief NC Vij, saying he “provided a protective umbrella to facilitate the alienation of the land”. Vij was also the Southern Army Commander in 2000-2001.
The inquiry – conducted by retired IAS officer Rajan Katoch and Lt. Gen. Ravi Thodge – also names former Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, saying that while he was “not directly connected with the case”, the officer was “not well advised” in becoming members of the society.
Eight other retired officers – including Lt. Gen. G.S. Sihota, Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh and Maj. Gen. T.K. Kaul – have been severely indicted by the inquiry committee. The inquiry has held them guilty for glossing over the potential threat to national security that the building posed, given that it overlooks the Colaba Military Station.
The report commends Brig. M.K.V. Panicker, then Bombay Sub-Area Commander and Saurav Ray, the Defence Estates Officer, Mumbai, as the only two within the system who constantly upheld that wrongdoing was on and registered their protest.
The committee has noted that while the officers can no longer be acted against under the Army Act that limits legal cases until three years of retirement, it has suggested that the government convey its displeasure to them for their “conduct and role in facilitating the wrongdoings”.
“Government can also consider in addition the option of taking action for debarring some or all of these officers from any future employment or contract with the Central Government or any of its bodies, or participating in any Committees,” the report says.
The recommendation of the committee for further action on the building itself is for the government to approach the Supreme Court for a takeover so that it can be utilised for housing for defence personnel.
Unusually strong words have been used to describe the impact of the officers “colluding” to create the Adarsh Society, saying that they have a greater role to play than the bureaucracy or political class.
“Attention in the Adarsh scam so far has centred on the wrongdoings and irregularities by the politicians and bureaucrats concerned with the approval process who exploited their position to become beneficiaries of ACHS, ostensibly promoted for the welfare of Kargil heroes and war widows. As we have found, perhaps as great a role was played by the military and Defence Estates Officers involved,” it says.
Calling out several discrepancies that took place, the 199 page report says that the officers indicted were “charged with the duty and responsibility to protect the interest of the services and defend national security”.
“In the identification of the subject land and facilitation of its allotment to the ACHS, there appears to have been definite collusion between senior military officers and Defence Estates Officers,” it says.