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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep 2012

Cops, soldiers clash at Kathua railway station

Tribune News Service


Jammu, September 11

The police has registered an FIR against two Army officers and some “unidentified” soldiers for allegedly attacking policemen and ransacking the GRP police station at the Kathua railway station on Monday.


Around six policemen were injured, one of them critically, when Army men allegedly assaulted the men in khaki for beating up one of their colleagues over a trivial issue. Two FIRs were registered against the Armymen this morning.


“The FIRs have been registered against Lt-Col MU Khan, and Capt Tyagi and some unidentified soldiers under Sections 148, 307, 364, 452 of the IPC for attacking cops, ransacking the police station and kidnapping one of our men,” Superintendent of Police GRP Shiv Kumar told The Tribune. He said no arrest had been made so far, but the police would approach the court to arrest the accused involved in the incident.


On Monday evening, the policemen deployed at the Kathua railway station reportedly had an altercation with a soldier, Deepak Kumar, who was on his way to his native place. The policemen allegedly took the soldier to a nearby post and beat him. Some other policemen also joined in and gave a severe thrashing to the solider. While policemen were beating up the soldier at the police post, another solider informed his colleagues at the nearby Army formation about the incident.


Within no time, his colleagues reached the GRP police station and attacked the policemen. The cops manning the police station had to run for shelter. Only Ghulam Nabi (Munshi) and Jarnail Singh (guard) were left in the police station. The soldiers allegedly gave a severe thrashing to Jarnail Singh. He had to be admitted to the Kathua hospital.


“Army men kidnapped Ghulam Nabi at gunpoint and it was only after the intervention of the SSP, Kathua, that the kidnapped policeman was rescued,” said SP (GRP). “If there was some problem, the Army officers should have informed us,” he said.


Armymen Booked


Two FIRs were registered against the Armymen, including a Lt Col, Capt


Six policemen were injured in the clash@@z No arrest so far

Suicides in the Army

The problem needs urgent addressing


Expressing concern over suicides in the Army, Defence Minister AK Antony has asked the three Service Chiefs to come up with additional suggestions to improve the living conditions of soldiers and to suggest methods to curb suicidal tendencies among airmen, naval ratings and, more importantly, Army jawans. The issue is of grave concern particularly in the Army considering that over a thousand soldiers, the equivalent of slightly over one-and-a-half Infantry battalion, have committed suicide in the last nine-and-a-half years starting in 2003. And this is not counting suicide figures of the Navy and the Air Force, which, when combined, exceed over two Infantry battalions worth of troops. 


It can be argued that a hundred suicides in an Army of over one million strength is insignificant. But that would be too statistical and reductionist to describe an issue that is clearly more complicated. The fact is that suicides are continuing year after year. An oft-cited factor is work stress in the Army, much of which is deployed in either or both life-risking counter-insurgency operations and harsh terrain and weather. But if that alone had been the case, then the number of suicides should have been higher during the last three decades keeping in view the Army’s long history of deployment in risky operations – the high altitude Siachen glacier from 1984 onwards, counter-insurgency in the Northeast since the late 1950s, anti-LTTE operations in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s and anti-terrorist operations in J&K since 1990.


Over the last decade, the situation has improved in many ways. Insurgency has reduced in J&K, there is peace in Nagaland and a ceasefire is in effect along the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line with Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir since November 2003 along with considerable improvement in equipment and living conditions for the troops. Yet, incidence of suicide continues year-after-year — over 100 annually in the Army alone since 2006. Clearly, the issue cannot be stress alone. The issue relates to morale, leadership and the expectations of the soldiers who, with their long periods of separation from their families, face a different nature of stress and anxiety. A study done by the Defence Institute and Research a few years ago listed suggestions for improving the situation. But these have either not been fully implemented or not been deemed sufficient. The services clearly have a problem which needs urgent addressing.

Army jawans attack Railway Police station in Kathua, six policemen injured

Srinagar: Army jawans in uniform and with weapons led by a Colonel attacked a railway police station in Kashmir and injured six policemen on Monday night.


The jawans, numbering 35, belong to the 225 field regiment stationed at Janglote in the Kathua district.


The reason for the attack was apparently an argument between one of the jawans, was heading home on leave, and a railway policeman. The jawan had allegedly unplugged the metal detector installed at the railway station to charge his mobile phone. When the policemen objected to this, an altercation ensued between them after which the Army jawan was taken to the police station.

On getting information about the incident, the jawan's colleagues, including some officers, reached the police station and allegedly went on a rampage, the officials said. They also took away the jawan with them.


They beat several of the policemen, one of whom is critical.


Others waiting at the station, fearing injuries, ran away in panic, police sources said.


"We asked the Army jawan that let us sit and talk, but the Army jawans cordoned the police station and picked up our munshi at gun point and took him to his unit. All the Army jawans came to the station with weapons, this crated a lot of panic there, all the passengers ran helter-skelter, the railway staff also ran away. The local shopkeepers say such a state of panic was created that they closed the shops and ran away, the station had reached a point, that seemed that there will be firing now, six of our policemen were injured, one of them is critical, the Army men who had come there also included senior officers," said Shiv Kumar Khajuria, Senior Superintendent of Police, Government Railway Police, Kathua.


Cases have been registered against the Armymen for allegedly beating up and injuring the cops, police officials said.


The Army has refused to comment on the matter so far.

Air Force turns down Rahul Gandhi's request

Kokrajhar (Assam): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was today forced to change his travel plans as the Indian Air Force (IAF) did not oblige to his request for flying him from Kokrajhar to Guwahati, citing bad weather.


Mr Gandhi was on a day's trip to Assam to meet victims of ethnic violence in relief camps and held discussions with Bodoland Territorial Council leaders on the prevailing situation in the state.


While travelling back to Guwahati with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, he was denied permission by the IAF officials to take off due to the bad weather, sources said.

An IAF spokesperson in New Delhi confirmed that Mr Gandhi had wanted to fly to Guwahati urgently for a meeting there but due to bad weather prevailing en route and at the destination, the permission was not given.


During the visit, Mr Gandhi met relief camp inmates and also held discussions with leaders from the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) as well as representatives of other civil organisations in the district regarding the prevailing situation along with relief and rehabilitation being provided to the affected people.


He was accompanied by Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Bhubaneswar Kalita.

Army chief visits Southern Command HQ

PUNE: Chief of Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh on Tuesday reviewed the preparedness of the Southern Army during his visit to the Pune-headquartered Southern Command.


Lt Gen A K Singh, GOC-in-C, Southern Command, briefed the army chief about the state of operational preparedness of the Southern Army. During his visit, Gen Singh also assured that problems of ex-servicemen in the country would be resolved.


Gen Singh, who is on a two-day visit to the city, interacted with senior functionaries of the Southern Command and addressed the officers of the station on the contemporary challenges facing the Indian Army, the collective efforts required in overcoming these and requirement of maintaining the highest standards of operational preparedness and discipline.


He also emphasised the need for value-based leadership, reiterating the Indian Army's ethos of commitment and professionalism.


In a first-of-its-kind experiment at the Southern Command, approximately 3,000 officers in 24 stations of the Southern Command were able to view the chief's address through a real-time video link.


In his interaction with ex-servicemen later, the army chief assured them of concerted effort towards amelioration of their problems. Since 2012 has been announced as the 'Year of Veterans', the army chief said that special attention would be given to solving their problems.


The army chief will be visiting the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla on Wednesday. He will then proceed to Bhopal, where he will review the operational preparedness of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps and address all army officers of the Bhopal Military Station.

Chinese Defence Minister’s Visit To Sri Lanka: An Indian Perspective

China’s Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie’s visited Sri Lanka for five days from August 29, 2012. The first-ever visit by a Chinese Defence Minister to Sri Lanka with an entourage of 23 members indicates the ever increasing Chinese interest in the island nation.


The defence minister called upon President Rajapaksa and met with the Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He also visited the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) and and the Defence Service College (DSC) – a national school established for children of defence services and police personnel. Even there the defence minister’s visit was limited to interaction with military personnel only. There was no press meet organised for the visiting delegation.


Evidently there was a conscious effort to keep the visit at a low key. It would be charitable to think that this was done as both sides were mindful of India’s sensitivities to Chinese overtures in Sri Lanka. But it would probably accurate to say that the Chinese defence minister did not want the Colombo visit to be overplayed as New Delhi was his next stop.

General Liang’s meeting with the President was only briefly reported in official release with traditional averment to peace and friendship between the two countries. On the Chinese visitor’s meeting with Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapksa, Sri Lanka defence ministry said Sri Lanka and China had sought to strengthen their military ties. The Chinese press release was a little more detailed. It quoted General Liang as saying that political trust between the two countries had deepened with the rapid expansion of exchanges and cooperation in various fields. He expressed the hope that the two sides would continue to work hard to maintain the close and friendly relations and strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the field of non- traditional security and improve the ability to respond to crisis together, so as contribute to regional peace, stability and development (emphasis added).


Presumably the reference to non-traditional security and responding to crisis together was related to international counter-terrorism cooperation that China had been promoting for some time. This was mooted in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and joint exercises have been carried out. Probably China would like to promote similar joint efforts with South Asian nations. This is evidenced by the Chinese military participation in the Sri Lanka joint services exercise “Cormorant III” from September 10 to 25 in Eastern Vakarai in Eastern Province. In this exercise along with Sri Lanka troops, Chinese troops would be participating side by side with military personnel from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Maldives.


India is not participating in the exercise. However, Indian observers will be attending the exercise. It will be interesting to watch how China progresses this nascent foray of “joint training” with South Asian countries. India’s response to this initiative will be equally interesting as during his Indian visit later, the Chinese defence minister had spoken of resuming military cooperation and exercises with India which were disrupted for a while.


According to Sri Lankan defence website about 2000 troops from the three services will be participating in the exercise. The exercise will include carrying out raids on boat yards, amphibious landings, taking of high value targets, reconnaissance and surveillance of targets, airborne and seaborne operations, path-finding missions, ambushes, search operations, counter terrorist actions and hostage rescue mission etc. Honing of Sri Lankan army’s joint operational skills with the air force and navy in counter terrorism operations appears to the main objective of the exercise.


Apparently, the Sri Lankan armed forces are getting ready to face a potential threat of LTTE remnants overseas making a foray into Sri Lanka at a future date. Though such a contingency might appear remote at present, Sri Lankan armed forces are training themselves to be ready for such security situations. This is in keeping with training practices of national armies everywhere and drawing alarming conclusion of imminent extremist threat to Sri Lanka would be incorrect.


However, more relevant from Indian point of view is, in future Sri Lanka will have the option of seeking Chinese military assistance in such an eventuality. This gives a totally different dimension to the growing military cooperation between the two countries. Probably, Sri Lanka has a similar understanding already with India. Despite such an understanding, China’s active military cooperation if and when it comes through in Sri Lanka, literally in India’s ‘backyard’, would complicate India’s security calculus.


Any India-China military stand-off in the future would be a testing time for Sri Lanka as has excellent defence understanding and cooperation with India. In this context, Sri Lanka Prime Minister DK Jayaratne remark when Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang visited Sri Lanka in June 2010 is interesting. He said Sri Lanka would unswervingly support China on issues of core interest. China went to war with India in 1962 as they consider security of national borders as a core issue. Considering Sri Lanka’s past conduct in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars, and economic compulsions facing the country now, in any future India-China confrontation also Sri Lanka is likely to adopt a neutral stance.


At the macro level, Chinese desire for greater security tie ups with Sri Lanka and other South Asian nations is presumably in response to increasing American strategic security profile in Asia-Pacific. Indian security planners would do well to contextualise these developments in the power play between China and the U.S. Such tie ups would come in handy as and when PLA Navy increases its muscle power in the next five years and enlarges its presence in Indian Ocean region to safeguard China’s security interests which are becoming global.


However, presumably to ally suspicion among South Asian nations of China’s increasing interest in the region, General Liang emphasised China’s peaceful intent in his speech at the DSCSC. He focused on peaceful development as essential component of China’s defence policy presumably to allay suspicion of China’s growing economic and military power. He said China exercises a military strategy of active defence, with the basic principle of adhering to a self-defence position that not to take the initiative to offend others, stand for non- military means to solve disputes, take defensive posture strategically, conduct self-defence and attack only after being attacked. He cited the example of China’s recent stand-off with Philippines saying “Take the recent Huangyan Island incident as an example, it is obvious that China’s military strength is stronger than that of the Philippines, but we didn’t use force or threat to use force, on the contrary, we have been committed to seeking solution of the dispute through diplomatic means.”


He also explained that China’s adherence to the path of peaceful development is determined by its history, culture and traditions, which centre on the idea of peace and harmony. In the Sri Lanka National Museum stands a stone tablet carved in 1409, which was gifted by Zhenghe, the famous navigator in ancient China to a local Buddhist temple during his stopover in Sri Lanka. “The three languages carved on the stone tablet, namely, Chinese, Persian and Tamil, expressed respect for Buddhism, Islam and Brahmanism. This shows the inclusiveness of the Chinese people towards different religions, and the respect for the harmonious co- existence of multiple cultures. Such historical culture and tradition that values peace above all has exerted profound influence on China’s choice of a peaceful development path.”


General Liang said in the Chinese government whitepaper China’s Peaceful Development in 2011, China had solemnly declared to the world that “China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development. The core idea of this path is that China will develop itself through upholding world peace and contribute to world peace through its own development.” China’s adherence to the path of peaceful development was also a choice necessitated by its national conditions as China was plagued by invasions and wars brought by foreign powers in history and the Chinese people know the value of peace and the importance of accelerated development.


During his visit to the DSC, students welcomed and thanked him in Chinese which was appreciated by the visiting dignitary. The General announced a donation of $30 million to the DSC, the highest ever made to an academic institution.


China appears to be attaching a great deal of importance to Chinese defence minister’s visit. The visit was preceded by a slew of announcements were made on Chinese financial assistance to various projects:


    Assistance for construction of army camps: Largesse of $100 million for construction of accommodation of and infrastructure facilities in Sri Lanka army camps now being established in North and East. The Chinese aid comes in the face of international demand for reducing army presence in the Tamil predominant areas of Sri Lanka. And that is what makes China special for Sri Lanka; China had been liberal in extending assistance to Sri Lanka to strengthen its armed forces during and after the Eelam war and unlike India and the U.S. who were always wary of extending such assistance.


    Railway project: Finance of $ 278 million credit for the construction of a 26.75 Km railway track from Matara to Beliatta (part of Matara rail link with pilgrim centre of Kataragama);


   Hambantota port development Phase II: The much awaited development of Phase II of the port will be financed by the Exim Bank of China will provide a loan of $ 600 million with Chinese government giving a concessional loan of RMB one billion. The objective of the Phase II Development is to make Hambantota a strong supplementary port to Colombo port as an international hub to consolidate Sri Lanka’s status as a container trans-shipment hub in South Asian Region. At present India provides 70 percent of the container trans-shipment business at Colombo; there is a likelihood of Colombo losing a sizeable chunk of this business in the near future when India completes its container handling capability. Evidently Sri Lanka is getting ready to handle such a contingency by attracting other international traffic.


    Sri Lanka government is reported to have signed an agreement with China to buy six Xian MA-60 military transport aircraft at US$ 105.4 million (though no public announcement has been made). Sri Lanka air force has already in service two Xian MA-60 aircraft. It is based on AN-24 platform and capable of short landing and takeoff in rugged terrain.


Even the increasing Chinese economic assistance to Sri Lanka has a strategic content. China’s economic outlay in Sri Lanka is around $ 6.5 billion; most of the 18 Chinese funded projects are infrastructural projects with long gestation period and repayment terms. According to Sunday Times, Colombo, China’s commitments for the past five years other than infrastructural investments have been US$ 2.12 billion of which $ 2.1 billion was repayable loans with four to five years of grace period. They have been given on commercial rates of interest unlike Indian loans which are at preferential rates. Only US$ 24 million (Rs. 3 billion) has been outright aid given to Sri Lanka. Some mega projects like the Hambantota port development project and Norocholai power plant may take a long time to become profitable propositions. A downside of Chinese Eximbank’s buyer’s credit to overseas construction projects is, it is mainly extended to facilitate Chinese exports of equipment, construction machinery, materials, technical and managerial expertise, and labour services. As a result they do not generate employment opportunities for local population.


In spite of these limitations, Sri Lanka has welcomed China’s economic assistance because it is available. However it is likely to face serious problems in servicing the loans for a long time to come. This makes Sri Lanka vulnerable to China’s strategic pressures.


Since the end of Eelam war in 2009 there had been a steady increase in exchanges at governmental, military, and political levels between the two countries. During President Rajapaksa’s August 2011 visit to Beijing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed the country’s readiness to help with Sri Lanka’s economic development, promote communication between the two countries with regard to infrastructure construction, enlarged two-way trade and investment, and strengthening cultural and personnel exchanges. So far, the Chinese assistance had been in accordance with the areas of cooperation identified by Premier Wen. Military linkages with Sri Lanka have been limited to sale of arms, exchange of visits of military officers and training of military personnel. Strategic military linkages with Sri Lanka, if any, had been kept under the wraps in both countries. Any such strategic understanding would adversely alter the Indian security environment.


China’s soft power is increasingly visible in all aspects of Sri Lanka society – diplomatic, economic and military fronts, mega projects and infrastructure building, and trade and commerce. Chinese entry into real estate and some manufacturing projects are also coming through. And it will be only a matter of time before cheap Chinese goods monopolise shop shelves. Chinese language teaching and cultural spread are also on the cards as Confucius Centre is scheduled to open in Colombo.


Though Chinese soft power expansion is also happening in India (except for Confucius Centre), as the Chinese footprints expand in Sri Lanka they are eating into Indian space. And the Chinese have probably added a strategic dimension to it now. Even as the Chinese defence minister embarked upon his onward journey from Colombo to New Delhi, hapless Sri Lankan visitors and pilgrims hounded out from Tamil Nadu were disembarking from their aircraft at Katunayake. This would have given General Liang a peep into the soft underbelly of Indo-Sri Lanka relations exposing its weaknesses. There is no denial that India-Sri Lanka relations had been drifting for sometime despite some major initiatives from the Ministry of Commerce. The only option for India is evolve a holistic plan to upgrade its relationship with Sri Lanka so that China gets a clear message.

Naval copter deal ‘drifting into rough weather’

Man Mohan

Our Roving Editor


New Delhi, September 10

The Defence Ministry has informed the two competing foreign military helicopter firms that their commercial proposal validity has been ‘extended’ till December 31, 2012.


This has happened at a time when the firms were expecting a final decision any moment. It has been over three years from the date the tender for 16 multi-role naval helicopters for the sea and off-shore operations was re-issued.


Top naval sources suspect that the lucrative $1.2 billion deal for the procurement of these helicopters has started “drifting into rough weather.”


It is learnt that a commercial negotiation committee has been formed to assess the rival vendors’ bids. Technical trials finished last year.


The delay has started impacting the Navy’s operational readiness with some frontline ships without their air assets and their inability to realise the full operational potential of the fleet at sea. The delay leads to cost over runs, technological obsolescence and leaves a vital maritime security gap.


The firms in the race to win this contract (TM (M)/0025/MRH/9918) are: American company Sikorsky, makers of Black Hawk, has offered its naval variant ‘Seahawk’ helicopter (S-70B) and European firm, NATO Helicopter Industries (NHI), which has offered its NH90 machine. The NHI is a consortium of France, German, Italy, Spain, Finland and Australia firms.


The decision makers are in a dilemma as the NHI has ‘openly’ questioned Sikorsky’s claims and has been ‘shooting letter missiles’ (three so far) to Defence Minister AK Antony and top authorities, raking up the issues of alleged non-compliances by Seahawk and the irregularities in the field evaluation trial and that Sikorsky has been “granted waivers on a number of non-compliances with qualitative requirements.”


On July 26, the NHI Business Director Julien Negrel fired the latest salvo by writing to Defence Secretary SK Sharma. The Tribune has accessed the copy of Negrel’s letter. The previous two confidential letters were reported by this newspaper in an exclusive report on July 9, 2012.


The Defence Ministry sources, however, claimed that the Sikorsky was “not granted any waiver.” Sources said the Ministry has already “responded to the allegations” and “yet the same queries are being repeated questioning the expertise, professional integrity and authority of the navy’s flight evaluation team and of the Defence Ministry.”


Instead of cribbing, a top naval officer felt, the Defence Ministry should take a tough stance against errant companies.”


Sikorsky has refused to comment on the competitor’s allegations on the plea that it is against their code of ethics and that they believe in buyer country’s technical evaluation and procurement process.


The trend of levying allegations on the competitors seems to be picking up in many critical defence procurements. Another case is of the 197 light helicopters for the Army, which since 2003 has not seen the light of the day in spite of the tenders being issued twice.

Taliban put photos of ‘attractive women’ on Facebook for spying on soldiers, says report

Taliban insurgents are posing as “attractive women” on Facebook to befriend coalition soldiers for gathering sensitive intelligence about operations in Afghanistan, an Australian government report has warned.


The dangers of social media have been pointed out in a federal government review of social media and defence, which was finalised in March but has not been acted upon, Defence sources said. The review found an “overt reliance” on privacy settings had led to “a false sense of security” among personnel.


The review warns troops to beware of “fake profiles, media personnel and enemies create fake profiles to gather information. For example, the Taliban have used pictures of attractive women as the front of their Facebook profiles and have befriended soldiers.”


Australian soldiers are now being given pre-deployment briefings about enemies creating fake profiles to spy on troops.


Personnel are also being warned that geo-tagging, a function of many websites that secretly logs the location from where a post is made or a photo is uploaded, is a significant danger.


Family and friends of soldiers are inadvertently jeopardising missions by sharing confidential information online, Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported.


Three Australian soldiers were this month murdered inside their base, allegedly by an Afghan Army trainee. Many of the 1577 Defence members surveyed for the review had no awareness of the risk, it said, adding 58 per cent of Defence staff had no social media training.


Surveyed troops said social media opens “a whole can of worms when it comes to operational, personnel and physical security”. “Many individuals who use social media are extremely trusting,” the review said.

Gujarat to soon announce defence equipment manufacturing policy

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government is gearing up to announce a policy for attracting defence equipment manufacturers to the state. "Gujarat government would encourage industries engaged in manufacturing defence equipment," said chief minister Narendra Modi during an event.


"We want Gujarat to take lead in making country self sufficient in defence equipment manufacturing as currently even trucks needed for the Army are imported," Modi said. He said that Gujarat would encourage setting up of units manufacturing defence equipment and would soon announce a policy to that effect.


Senior Gujarat government officials had earlier hinted if setting up an exclusive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to invite defence-related industrial suppliers to set up units so as to boost the sector in the state.


India had opened up gates for defence equipment manufacturing to private players in 2001. Currently, around 70 per cent of India's defence requirement is met through imports.


Modi was talking about the defence policy in an award function. Referring to the textile policy announced by the state recently, Modi said, 'the new textile policy will ensure Gujarat's cotton growers get better price realization in national and international markets, guarding them from the Centre's anti-farmers and anti-export policies." Modi also said that the DMIC (Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor) passing through Gujarat would open doors for huge development in the state.

India-Saudi Arabia to enhance defence cooperation

New Delhi : India and Saudi Arabia will enhance bilateral cooperation with defence exchanges and interaction between their armed forces, the government said Monday.


The two countries held the first ever meeting of the joint committee on defence cooperation here Monday. It was attended by a 11-member Saudi delegation headed by armed forces operations' chief Major General Suleiman Saleh Al-Khalifa.


"Proposals for exchange of high level visits, training exchanges and functional exchanges in various areas were discussed and will be finalised over the coming weeks," the defence ministry said in a statement.


The joint committee has been tasked to develop programmes to further cooperation between the military establishments of the two countries.


Both the countries decided to form the committee after Defence Minister A.K. Antony met his Saudi counterpart Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud during a visit to Saudi Arabia in February 2012.


India-Saudi relations have are in an upswing since 2006 after King Abdullah visited New Delhi. In 2010, the two nations signed several pacts, including agreements on energy, counterterrorism, narcotics, money laundering and extradition.


The two countries are also examining the possibility of cooperation in defence industries.

To amend ACRs, ex-Army chief gave himself sweeping powers

As Army chief, Gen (retired) V K Singh had modified a key rule that governs the changes that can be made in Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of officers and given himself the power to edit them as he pleased.


Though the order to give him sweeping powers was issued on March 7, 2011, Singh had, in fact, introduced it retrospectively from November 2010.


But in March this year, two months before Singh retired, the Defence Ministry reversed his sweeping modifications after it was found that they were impacting promotions and selections of a large number of officers, and Solicitor General Rohinton F Nariman felt the changes made by Singh were not “legally sustainable”.


Nariman also said any proceedings in selection boards after March 7, 2011 based on the moderated confidential reports would have to be “revised accordingly”.


Asked by The Indian Express how many selection board orders had been reversed following the Solicitor General’s opinion, the Army Headquarters only said: “Based on observations of the Ministry of Defence on this policy, the necessary modifications to the policy have already been carried out.”


According to the original Army rule, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) could expunge an entire ACR if it was found to be “grossly inconsistent” with the past profile of the officer who had been rated.


However, a letter dated March 7, 2011 issued by the Military Secretary’s branch said that this rule was amended to allow the COAS to moderate or expunge the ACR either partly or fully for the same reason as in the past.


Both orders, however, held that the changes made could not be revoked or reviewed. Although the force was informed of the amendment through the March 7, 2011 letter, the same letter said that Singh had approved this amendment and introduced it retrospectively since November 2010.


The letter said that moderation of ACRs could lead to changes in the numerical rating of officers and these ratings are amended in the confidential report as well as the database of the personnel.


Senior Defence Ministry officials told The Indian Express that they decided to seek legal opinion on the amendment after they found that the changes being made in the ACRs were impacting selections and promotions of a large number of officers. “Following the receipt of the Solicitor General’s opinion, we reversed everything,’’ a senior defence official said.


In his seven-page opinion received by the ministry on March 21 this year, Nariman categorically stated that the power conferred by the Army chief on himself “is not legally sustainable”.


“It has been stated that in the recently held selection boards, it has been noticed that the officers’ confidential reports have undergone drastic changes, effectively changing the merit of officers in the panel,” Nariman said. “Since the marks allotted in the confidential reports have a direct bearing on the promotion of an officer, any proceedings of the selection boards based on confidential reports which have been illegally modified would not be sustainable,’’ he said.


“It goes against the provision of mandatory expunction in the cases of gross inconsistency. Any confidential report which is found to be grossly inconsistent must be expunged in full,” Nariman said. “Therefore, paragraph 137, as it stood prior to the amendment, correctly did not leave any discretion in the Chief of Army Staff in such cases. To introduce an element of discretion now is therefore not permissible.”


Nariman was also of the opinion that the provision in both orders that the changes made by the Army chief cannot be revoked was beyond the powers of the Army Act and would have to be modified.


Original para 137 of Army order


“CR identified as grossly inconsistent or with inflationary/ deflationary/ subjective reporting, after due examination at appropriate level, may be expunged by the COAS. Expunctions approved by the COAS will be irrevocable. No re-initiation or review is permissible.”


Amended para 137 of Army order


“CR identified as grossly inconsistent or with inflationary/ deflationary/ subjective reporting, after due examination at appropriate level, may be either moderated or expunged in part or full by the COAS. Expunctions and moderations approved by the COAS will be irrevocable. No re-initiation or review is permissible.”


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