In a first, tribunal holds ex-vice-admiral guilty of favouring son-in-law

An ex-vice-admiral in-charge of safety on-board nuclear submarines has been indicted for nepotism by a tribunal for favouring his son-in-law at the cost of others.

Manu Pubby

A tribunal has indicted a senior naval officer, who is in-charge of safety on-board India’s nuclear submarines, for nepotism, and held him guilty for favouring his son-in-law for promotions at the cost of other officers.

In a scathing judgement, the armed forces tribunal has fined Vice-Admiral P.K. Chatterjee (Retd.), then Inspector General Nuclear Safety, a sum of Rs.5 lakh for favouring his son-in-law, and nixing the career of his course mate, who has since taken voluntary retirement.

The tribunal was hearing a case filed by two naval officers – both of whom were nuclear reactor operators for submarines. The two operators had accused the three-star officer of favouring his son-in-law, Captain A.V. Agashe. The tribunal has come down heavily on the navy for its oversight in detecting the conflict of interest.

“It is disturbing and surprising that the Indian Navy does not have an inbuilt system to ensure (that) such probable occurrence between relatives are addressed institutionally, so that such a situation, as occurred in this case, does not manifest…(Chatterjee) who is a three-star high ranking officer of the Navy, at no stage has made known to (the) Navy the fact that he was consistently reporting on his son-in-law,” the tribunal held.

The retired Vice-Admiral has been directed to pay Commander S.S. Luthra a sum of Rs. 5 lakh as damages. Luthra, who has since taken early retirement, will also be re-considered for the post of captain, and shall get all pensionary benefits possible.

Luthra was a nuclear reactor operator trained on the INS Chakra, a nuclear attack boat leased from Russia. Agashe was a reactor operator onboard the INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear missile-armed submarine.

This is the first case of a three-star officer being held guilty of such action by the tribunal.

“It is manifest and clearly evident that (Chatterjee) has interfered in a mala fide and unjustified manner in the CRs (confidential reports) of Cdr. Luthra. It is equally apparent to us that the profile of Respondent No. 4 Capt. Agashe has been positively affected and enhanced in an unjustified manner,” the tribunal said.

It also instructed the navy to put safety mechanisms in place so that such cases are not repeated.

“Navy shall ensure that such like circumstances, which are completely avoidable, do not occur and in doing so, will specify orders and policies, to ensure that there is no recurrence,” the tribunal says.



  1. Such matters are prevalent in all three Services and there is a need to eradicate them. For this we nred senior officers brigadier and above with unstinted loyalty and dignity to service.


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