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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 24 Jan 2012






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120124/main1.htm
Army Chief’s Age Row-Part 2
A matter of Honour vs Propriety
The second big anomaly
By Raj Chengappa, Editor-in-Chief

Among the first things that every Gentleman Cadet who joins the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla is asked to do is to write a brief autobiography. When Vijay Kumar Singh reported to the NDA on 13 July 1966 to begin his training, he wrote in his autobiography, “I was born on 10th May 1951 in Poona. My father is an army officer. I have two younger brothers and a younger sister. I first went to St Columbus High School and did my first class from there. Then I joined the Birla Public School, Pilani.”

He continues his autobiography in a matter-of-fact way stating: “In school I used to play all the games but was good at basketball, football and hockey as well as volleyball. I am also a good rider and was one of the best at school. I have also done a lot of hiking. I have gone up to a height of 15,000 ft. As for my hobby I collect leaves and sketches.”

Proof of birth

While he does come across as a confident and accomplished lad, the most important point is that he writes his date of birth as 10 May 1951. These are among the several documents that General Vijay Kumar Singh, Chief of Army Staff, cites as proof in his statutory complaint to the Union Government challenging the order to maintain his date of birth as 10 May 1950. It is also cited in his writ petition to the Supreme Court which is yet to be taken up for hearing.

In the first part of the series that appeared in The Tribune yesterday, it was pointed that the first anomaly in his date of birth noting occurred in the application form for the NDA examination prepared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). In the form, Vijay Kumar Singh filled his date of birth as 10 May 1950.

The UPSC did point out the discrepancy in June 1966 when Singh was provisionally selected for the NDA after passing the examinations and clearing his medicals. Singh claimed in his petition that he then went to the UPSC’s office personally in Delhi and along with a letter from his father submitted a provisional matriculation certificate which gave his date of birth as 10 May 1951 and asked for a correction in the records.

In his statutory complaint Singh cites this as proof of him having given documentary evidence to correct his date of birth and also evidence that the UPSC had accepted it otherwise the UPSC would not have allowed him to join the NDA. As he stated, “ As far as I was concerned the UPSC had noted my date of birth as May 10, 1951 even before I was selected for training at the NDA.”

The MoD in its order of 30 December 2011 rejecting the statutory complaint made by General Singh states that, “There is no record either with the complainant or with the Army Headquarters or the UPSC to show that the UPSC had accepted the change in the date of birth. The complainant has also referred to some other correspondence such as submission of School Leaving Certificate which is not available with either the UPSC or in the original dossier sent by the UPSC to Army HQ. The assertion of the complainant that as far as he is concerned the UPSC had noted his date of birth as 10 May1951 is not supported by any document on record.”

To prove that barring the UPSC form he had consistently maintained his date of birth as 10 May 1951, General Singh cites a whole range of documents during that period in which it is listed as such. Among them is the SP Form-103 which every candidate seeking commission in the armed forces has to fill up before he appears before the Service Selection Board (SSB) interview. General Singh filled up his form on May 9, 1966 and in it had entered 10 May 1951 as his date of birth.

The SP Form-103 had to be separately attested by the DIG, CID and IB, Rajasthan (where he was studying) and the DIG, CID and IB, Punjab (as VK Singh had shown Hisar then in Punjab as his native place). General Singh states that verification done by these authorities on 26 June 1966 reflects the date of birth as 10 May 1951.

Counter arguments

The MoD in its order rejecting Singh’s statutory complaint points out that the five copies of the SP-103 forms were forwarded to both revenue and police authorities of Rajasthan and Punjab “for verifying the character and antecedents with reference to the place of residence of the complaint.” The implication was that these authorities were not vouching for the date of birth that Singh had entered in the SP-103 form but his character and standing.

The MoD then point out that on 9 May 1966 the same date as General Singh had filled up had filled up the SP Form 103, another form called SP-Form 44 was filled up at the SSB. On that the date of birth was recorded as 10 May 1950. The form also records the verification by the revenue and police authorities at the time of selection to the NDA in 1966 apart from other details such as his marks in the interview and allotment to the 36th Course at NDA.

General Singh maintains in his plaint that the SP-44 form “is prepared before a candidate is sent to the SSB well before the selection for NDA and is filled on the basis of the UPSC Application Form.” Perhaps he didn’t notice that it was filled on the same day that he had filled up SP-103 form.

The MOD in its order rejecting General Singh’s statutory complaint states, “The importance of Form SP-44 vis-à-vis SP-103 cannot be discounted since it forms an integral part of an officer’s recruitment, from the stage of his selection by the UPSC, training at the NDA and Indian Military Academy and till the allotment of a Unit in the army, recording his marks in the interview and details of the course, roll number at NDA and IMA and IC number.”

At the NDA, which is a three-year course, General Singh was initially keen on joining the Air Force and gave it as his first preference. But he recalls that his father, Colonel Jagat Singh, talked him out of it and advised him to join the army. After he passed out of the NDA as is usual all graduating Gentlemen Cadets are sent for a year to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun to do a year’s officer training course.

At the IMA every candidate has a separate Dossier maintained including personal particulars and training record. The second big anomaly occurs when Vijay Kumar Singh fills up the form for his Dossier and in the date of birth column he writes 10 May 1950. Singh had arrived at the Academy on 21 July 1969 and the form in question was filled up by him on 29 July 1969, eight days later. It was countersigned by an officer of the IMA on July 30, 1969.

Second anomaly

As an explanation as to why he wrote1950 instead of 1951 on the Dossier, Singh states that the “orders were to fill the column for date of birth as per the UPSC application form.” The MoD hammers that anomaly home in its order dismissing Singh’s complaint stating, “No order directing this is forthcoming on the records. If the UPSC had already noted his date of birth as 10 May 1951 as claimed by the complainant he could have indicated this date as his birth. However, the date of birth was indicated as May 10, 1950.”

The MoD further points out that the ‘Record of Particulars’ in the IMA Dossier reads as “Gentleman Cadet- Course No. — 45th Regular Course. Name — Vijay Kumar Singh, IMA No. 10303, Date of Birth — 10 May 1950; Commissioned into — Infantry, Personal Number Alloted — IC 24173, Date of Commission — 14 June 1970.” It also stated that the IMA’s Final Assessment and Confidential Report of June 1970 show the date of birth as May 10, 1950.

The IMA mix-up

Singh in his petition to the Government states that he brought the discrepancy in the date of birth to the notice of the IMA authorities at that point itself. He claims that the IMA then corresponded with Birla Public School, Pilani, where he studied, asking it to provide a certificate giving the correct date of birth which it did. Singh states, “Accordingly the date of birth by the IMA in my Record of Service which is sent to the Adjutant General branch (MP 5/6) after commissioning is also 10th May 1951.”

The MoD in its ruling shot down Singh’s claims stating, “There is no record to support his assertion. If the authorities in the IMA had corrected the date of birth as 10 May 1951, their Dossier, the ‘Record of Particulars’ and Final Assessment and Confidential Report should not have continued to show the date of birth as May 10, 1950.”

Singh, however, has other evidence to counter such assertions. In his petition he states that the IMA issues an identity card with a unique number that is carried by the officer throughout his service. Importantly, the ID card has 10 May 1951 as his date of birth. Also the ‘Record of Service IAFZ 2041’, which is prepared on the commissioning of an officer and his joining a unit carries a similar date. Singh was commissioned in the Indian Army on 14th June 1970 and was posted to an Infantry Unit, the 2nd Rajput Battalion, based then in Delhi.

The MoD in its orders is hard put to explain this contradiction. It relies on the opinion given by Goolam Vahanvatti, the Attorney General of India, who pointed out that the requisite checking was not done by the Manpower Planning Directorate regarding verification of the date of birth in Singh’s case at this stage.

The MoD goes on to state that the Record of Service was a document prepared by Singh himself and then countersigned by the officiating Commanding Officer. It charges Singh with “not correctly representing his date of birth in the form IAFZ 2041.” After faulting the concerned authorities responsible for preparing and authenticating the record, it concludes, “In the absence of authentication of 10 May 1951 as the date of birth, its basis for the Record of Service cannot be accepted.”

Conflicting records

By now, it is apparent that the two branches of the Army, the Adjutant General (AG) Branch and the Military Secretary (MS) Branch, were maintaining two different dates of birth for Vijay Kumar Singh. While the AG looks after recruitment and keeps tracks of all Gentleman Cadets selected, the MS takes over once the officer is commissioned and maintains his records of service and oversees his postings and promotions. There was no reconciliation of the records then and has not been to this date.

There is another peculiar turn of events. The UPSC rule states that the original matriculation certificate must be sent to the concerned Army directorate as soon as it is received. Though Singh passes his Class X board examinations in 1966, he received his certificate only in 1971 because of the oddest set of circumstances.

According to him, by the time the certificate is sent to his father’s unit he had been transferred out. It was then sent to his village in Hisar where it lay unattended till Singh came home in 1971 and discovered it. On the certificate his date of birth is shown as 10 May 1951. Singh said he had forwarded it to the AG Branch that year itself. The delay in submitting his original certificate, along with the anomalies in the entries in forms, would again compound his quest to correct the wrong he strongly believes occurred.

Tomorrow: The twist in the tale


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120124/nation.htm#2
India joins select club, gets N-powered sub Nerpa
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23
Russia has formally handed over Nerpa, a nuclear-powered submarine, to India. The submarine that has the capacity to fire nuclear warheads was today rechristened INS Chakra and it now flies the Indian Tricolour.

The submarine is on a 10-year lease to India under $ 900 million contract. The ceremony to name the submarine was conducted in the Far Eastern Primorye Territory. Russian submariners trained their Indian colleagues to handle Nerpa in the Pacific Ocean. The submarine is on its way to India and is expected to be here in the next few weeks, sources said

The vessel has the capacity to carry four 533mm torpedoes and four 650mm torpedos. Though the Russians, under the Missile Technology Control Regime, cannot give any N-tipped missiles with the submarine, India has its own missiles which match the size of the torpedo tubes available on Nerpa. The DRDO has already mimicked an under-water launch of a missile that could be fitted onto the indigenously produced INS Arihant.

After the US, Russia, France, Britain and China, India will become the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world.

Significantly for India, it will be almost after a gap of two decades that the Indian Navy will operate a nuclear-powered submarine. The country had earlier leased a submarine from Russia that was returned.

The submarine’s total displacement is 12,770 tonnes while its maximum speed is 30 knots. It can plunge into depths of 600 metres while its endurance to remain under water is 100 days. The under-water endurance of nuclear submarine is what makes it so potent. Diesel-electric powered submarines — which the Indian Navy uses — have to surface every 3-4 days to ‘breathe’. The Nerpa will have a crew of 73.

Reports from Moscow said that Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra attended the event, besides United Shipbuilding Corporation head Roman Trotsenko, Eastern Military District commander Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and other officials.


http://www.rediff.com/news/report/pak-armys-stand-wont-change-us-probe-into-air-strike/20120124.htm
'Pak army's stand won't change US probe into air strike'
Dismissing the remarks by the Pakistani military on the November 26 deadly NATO cross border strike, the United States on Monday said it stands by its own investigation that it was not an unprovoked firing by the US-led forces.
"This (Pakistan military remarks) does not change our believes in the validity of the findings. The statement that this was an unprovoked attack by American forces is simply false," Pentagon [ Images ] spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby said.

"This was not an unprovoked attack. We have said this many many times. There were errors made on both sides here," he told mediapersons.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Pakistan officially communicated with it on its own findings over the weekend before going public on Monday.

Asserting that the US stands "100 per cent" by the investigation done by a top general from the Central Command released last month, Kirby said the US had desired Pakistani participation in that investigation, which then would have been more thorough.

Pakistan's absence from participation in the CENTCOM investigation, Kirby said: "does not change our firm believe in the validity of the findings of the investigations that we did".

The most important thing is that the Pentagon now wants to get past all this and wants to build a good co-operative relationship with the Pakistani military.

"We still believe that co-ordination and communication with the Pakistani military particularly across that border remains vital to our success in Afghanistan. We are still very committed to this relationship and getting it on the right track," Kirby said.

Pakistan had reacted angrily after its 24 soldiers were

killed and 13 more injured when NATO helicopters and combat jets from Afghanistan targeted two military check posts in Salala area of Mohmand tribal region on November 26 last year.

Responding to questions, Kirby said the US would like to see the NATO supply routes to be reopened by Pakistan, but quickly added that this is something for Islamabad [ Images ] to decide. Kirby acknowledged that the relationship between the two countries is going through a rough patch.

"We believe that it is in the interest of both countries and both militaries to move beyond all that, try to find some common ground and try to advance that relationship in a positive direction than it has been going on in the last few months," he said.

The ongoing tension, he acknowledged, has impacted their relationship. "There has been impact to the fact that the relationship is not going well. There is no doubt about it. But I would also say that on a daily basis the cooperation on a tactical level with the Pakistani military across the border continues and in some ways better facilitated. Our operations inside Afghanistan continues," he said.

Earlier in the day, the Pakistani military rejected the US report, saying it was considered in an "adversarial role" and not as a friend during the American inquiry.

"Pakistan does not agree with several portions and findings of the (US) investigation report as these are factually not correct," said a terse statement from Inter- Services Public Relations, the media arm of the military.


http://business-standard.com/india/news/ajai-shukla-performance-not-age/462613/
Ajai Shukla: Performance, not age
Ajai Shukla / Jan 24, 2012, 00:35 IST

The public battle over the army chief's age bears a larger lesson for the government: the undesirability of letting a date of birth determine which generals are appointed to senior military command and, especially, to the crucial appointments of army, navy and air force chiefs. As India now knows, the army chief (like those of the navy and air force) is appointed based not on merit but on when he was born. When a serving chief retires, his senior-most army commander is elevated to the top job. Only once has the government deviated from this: in appointing Lt Gen A S Vaidya instead of Lt Gen S K Sinha in 1983. Rather than exercise judgement in selecting a suitable chief from its 85-odd lieutenant generals, the government acts as if all of them are equally good, or bad.

Rather less known is the fact that the army chief’s key subordinates — i.e., army commanders and, under them, corps commanders — are also appointed based on when they were born. Of the officers promoted to lieutenant general, only those with at least three years of residual service (i.e., those below 57 years) get to command corps, while the rest of them warm desks. This even though a corps commander’s tenure is just a year. After commanding a corps, a lieutenant general is elevated to army commander only if he has two years of residual service.
These are not mere guidelines that are waived for exceptional officers, but ironclad rules that waste exceptional military talent for insufficient reason. An example of this is currently playing out. Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain was brought in as Srinagar corps commander in autumn 2010 to staunch three years of bloodletting on the Kashmiri street. He successfully calmed tempers and dramatically boosted the army’s image, achieving in Kashmir what Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus could not in Afghanistan. Based purely on performance, Hasnain is an outstanding field commander. But, since he has less than two years of service left, he will not even make army commander, leave alone army chief. Instead, he will push papers in Delhi.

This ill-conceived “date of birth” approach to top-rank promotions sits atop a bitterly resented quota system in the ranks just below. The army’s “Mandalised” system of promotion quotas (described in this newspaper’s Weekend supplement on January 14) grants promotions at the key ranks of colonel and brigadier not to accomplished officers with the best career records; but distributes them between various arms on a pro-rata basis. That guarantees each arm — the infantry, the artillery, the armoured corps, etc., — proportionate representation in those crucial ranks, regardless of merit. Every promotion board rejects some outstanding officers because of “lack of vacancies” in that arm; while officers with notably inferior records get promoted because their arm’s vacancies must be filled.

No other country that I know of fetters its senior military command so. The United States government, like most others, selects its top soldier from a broad panel of generals, often picking up a relatively junior officer with an exceptional service record and the potential for bridging the sometimes opposing interests of the military and the political class.

Such systems of “deep selection” create incentives amongst the generals for bold decision-making and eye-catching performance. But Indian generals who are in the running to be chief (by virtue of their correctly aligned dates of birth!) need only to ensure that they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. This encourages conservative decision-making, the absolute avoidance of risk, and the “servicing” of personal relationships to ensure that nothing derails their candidacy.

The argument against “deep selection” sounds superficially convincing: that a compromised polity and an inherently anti-army bureaucracy can hardly be trusted to select the military chiefs. This argument suggests that dhotiwalas and babus (the military’s mocking reference to politicians and bureaucrats) would unleash patrimonialism and politicisation within an organisation that has remained relatively honest and functional only because of its complete segregation.

This argument is flawed, not least in regarding the selection of senior officers free of such influence — something that has been disproved in the debate over the army chief’s birth date. By promoting a chasm between the military and the political and bureaucratic elites, the military damages its own interests. With no political and bureaucratic investment in a military chief (we didn’t select him, he just happened to be born on a certain date and came up the chain) the civil-military relationship remains fundamentally adversarial. Any reform measure — the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); an integrated defence staff (IDS) headquarters, or the cross-posting of officers between the MoD and the IDS — founders on the rocks of inter-agency hostility.

A system of “deep selection” would galvanise the military’s leadership; lead to longer tenures for service chiefs, during which they could drive home key initiatives; promote a meritocracy from the top down; and, most importantly, create an incentive for elected representatives and government bureaucrats to pay closer attention to the military and the management of defence. For entrenched interests within the military, greater civilian involvement in promotions and appointments is threatening. But this must be the lesson that emerges from the current unsavoury face-off.


http://www.defpro.com/news/details/31567/?SID=57db43b8686e4cda36abcc4cc9fb5898
Ali Ahmed investigates remarks made by the Indian Army Chief’s on the Cold Start doctrine

18:20 GMT, January 23, 2012 Speaking on the sidelines of an Army Day function, the Indian Army chief has stepped back from his earlier stated position that ‘there is nothing called Cold Start’. The Times of India, that has kept a sharp eye on the meanderings of India’s conventional doctrine, the so-called Cold Start, since its inception in 2004, reports on the Army fine-tuning its ‘proactive strategy’.

The chief is reported as saying, “A lot has changed since the days of Op Parakram. If we did something in 15 days then, we can do it in seven days now. After two years, we may be able to do it in three days.” Apparently, the Army is now working towards further cutting down this mobilization timeframe to 72 to 96 hours.

This means that Cold Start remains alive and kicking, with all the implications that its critics have registered in light of the nuclear backdrop. The Army approach to nuclear weapons is encapsulated in Gen Singh’s reply: “I and my Army are not bothered about who has nuclear weapons. We have our task cut out and we will progress along that.”

It is not that he is not cognizant of dangers, but believes in the efficacy of deterrence. Deterrence, in his words, implies: “Let's be quite clear on it... Nuclear weapons are not for war-fighting. They have got a strategic significance and that is where it should end.”

The problem appears to stem from the conventional and nuclear spheres being kept distinct in India. The underlying logic for this is that India believes that nuclear weapons are political weapons and not for war-fighting, as mentioned by the General. The conventional doctrinal domain is seen as the preserve of the military. For the military, being historically little integrated at the nuclear strategy-making level, the interface between the conventional and nuclear doctrines and strategy is limited. As a result the two are undertaken autonomous from each other.

The military thus ends up relying on questionable deterrence logic. The nuclear logic reasonably in the nuclear age should be one of war avoidance. The reinvigorated ‘Cold Start’ unveiled by the Chief banks on nuclear deterrence. Is this enough to convince the political decision-maker to allow launch of the ‘proactive strategy’?

The deterrence logic subscribed to is that the likelihood, if not inevitability, of the spiral of nuclear exchanges on introduction of nuclear weapons into a conflict, would see Pakistan worse off at the end of it all. This would ensure that it does not resort to first use in first place. In light of Pakistani self-deterrence, India can then proceed to administer conventional punishment for sub-conventional provocation. Since this would be a Limited War, not intended to invade or occupy its territory, first use thresholds will be steered clear of.

The belief that conventional assertion is possible owes to the belief that Pakistan has gained more from nuclearisation, taking advantage of the ‘stability-instability paradox’. The paradox has it that nuclear dangers having receded by mutual deterrence, Pakistan can get away with being venturesome at a lower level. To them, this space for proxy war has to be denied to Pakistan by India ceasing to be self-deterred by Pakistan unveiling its tactical nuclear weapons.

Instead, the argument goes, India must deter Pakistan’s nuclear use threat by credibly threatening to ‘finish’ it as a state and society. The National Security Adviser used the term ‘massive’ twice over in his interaction at the end of the lecture delivered in honour of K Subrahmanyam on his birthday this week. The latest think-tank phraseology is: “… India will annihilate it with its nuclear arsenal.” This is intended to keep Pakistan in its nuclear senses, enabling India’s punishment of Pakistan with its conventional forces come I-Day, ‘Incident Day’.

This is entirely plausible, but neglectful of a consequence that must inform decision-making in India’s Political Council of the Nuclear Command Authority; the political domain of nuclear decision-making being distinct from the strategic. The key consideration is brought about by Pakistani vertical proliferation to an arsenal numbering in three digits.

This ensures Pakistan would have enough surviving warheads for counter-retaliation to even a ‘massive’ punitive retaliation by India. While the consensus is that India would ‘survive’ while Pakistan would not, what such advocacy neglects are the effects such retaliatory nuclear strikes will have on India environmentally, as a polity, and as a society.

Clearly, ‘massive’ punitive retaliation must be ruled out. This may embolden Pakistani nuclear first use in a low threshold mode. This can best be avoided by refraining from taking the first step in the proactive strategy option. This can be done by removing it from consideration by making progress in the second round of talks now ongoing since 26/11. Else the option will remain on the table, as the Chief has unwittingly let on.

The political decision-maker would require bearing the infirmity in strategic thinking at the conventional-nuclear interface as he listens to strategic level advice on ‘I’ Day.


http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/india-need-not-worry-about-situation-in-pak-army-chief/954586.html
India need not worry about situation in Pak: Army chief
PTI | 10:01 PM,Jan 23,2012

New Delhi, Jan 23 (PTI) Army chief Gen V K Singh today said India need not worry about the changing situation in Pakistan as it is the latter which should be concerned about it. "We don't have any worry. Pakistan should worry about it," Gen Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a book release function here. He was asked if the Indian Army is keenly observing the volatile situation in Pakistan and if India should be bothered about it. Gen Singh had recently said any move by Pakistan to deploy its forces on its borders with India as a defensive strategy does not impact the Army here. "It does not affect our option in anyway. Those are their options, what they want to do, they are most welcome to do," he had said. He was replying to a question on reports that Pakistan may deploy its forces along its borders with India as a defensive measure in case of any terror strike here.


http://zeenews.india.com/news/jammu-and-kashmir/sc-sad-with-army-s-stance-on-pathribal-killing-case_754455.html
SC sad with Army's stance on Pathribal killing casE
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its displeasure that more than the decade-old encounter killings case in Pathribal, Jammu and Kashmir, was yet to reach the trial stage due to Army's perceived defiance against prosecution of its personnel supposedly enjoying immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Irked by Army's stance that its officials cannot be prosecuted for alleged fake encounter killings in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam without prior sanction, the Court today sought responses from the Union Home and Defence Ministries.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the two ministries after Additonal Solicitor General P P Malhotra, while denying the fake encounters at Pathribal and Assam, repeatedly insisted that CBI cannot prosecute them without the central government's prior permission.

Malhotra's defence was countered by another Solicitor General Harin Rawal, appearing for CBI, who said "they (the Army) want to bury the case."

The apex court pointedly queried Malhotra whether the Army was willing to initiate "court martial" proceedings against the accused army officials but the latter sought time to "seek instructions" from the government on the issue.

Seven people were gunned down by army personnel on March 25, 2000, at Pathribal in South Kashmir and they were branded as terrorists of Lashker-e-Taiba group who were responsible for the gunning down of 36 Sikhs at Chittisingpura in the same district on the intervening night of March 19-20, 2000.

In another incident in 1996, about seven men were shot dead by the Army in an alleged fake encounter with Bodo militants.

The bench is examining CBI's plea for prosecution of these Army personnel.

During the two-hour-long hearing, the apex court expressed displeasure over the delay in trial on account of the Army's stance.

The bench brushed aside Malhotra's argument that prior sanction was a prerequisite for prosecuting the army officials as they enjoyed immunity under Sections 6 and 7 of the Army Act.

Malhotra submitted the safeguard was evolved as they were working in the "disturbed areas under peculiar circumstances."

The bench then asked Malhotra whether the Army was willing to "initiate court martial proceedings against the officials."

But the ASG insisted that even for court martial proceedings prior permission was required.

However, the submission failed to convince the bench which remarked "if that is the case, no army personnel can be prosecuted. Give us even one instance of the Army seeking prior sanction of the central government for court martial proceedings.

"Have you ever taken permission of the central government even for court martial proceedings against a jawan? Show us even one instance, then we will accept your argument, " the bench said.

The apex court said the Army cannot play around with the court by seeking immunity.

"The matter is pending for the past 10 years. How do you expect the citizens of India to wait? You (army) create a situation where no one is able to take a decision. You can't play around with the court," the bench told Malhotra.

Counsel Ashok Bhan, appearing for CBI in the Pathribal encounter case, said no immunity existed for the Army personnel involved in fake encounter killings.

Bhan read out from Section 125 of the Army Act to show that no immunity existed for the personnel.

The Pathribal case was investigated by CBI which filed its chargesheet in 2007 against five army personnel, including the then Brigadier who later rose to become a Major General.

However, the trial in the case was stopped after the Army moved the Supreme Court claiming immunity for its personnel under AFSPA whereas CBI contended the five had allegedly indulged in murder of civilians for which the immunity could not be provided.

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