M A I N   N E W S

Over 50 top officers in the dock
Another scam in Army, this time in J-K
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
The Army is now investigating allegations of irregularities in purchases made from funds released under the Army Commanderís special financial powers in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to sources, tents and other ordnance equipment was purchased from local sources under the special funds. The purchases pertain to the last 2-3 years and are valued at about Rs 17 crore.

Role of a large number of officers, most of them from the Army Ordnance Corps, in the purchases is being investigated. Though exact figures are not available, informed sources place the number to be above 50. The purchases were said to have been made through No1 Field Ordnance Deport (FOD), responsible for meeting the requirements for all formations and establishments based in J&K.

According to sources, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen H S Panag has ordered a court of inquiry (COI) into the matter. The said irregularities came to light following anonymous complaints.

Sources also reveal that a few days ago, a board of officers assembled to condemn unusable items in the FOD and had found surplus items, many of which had a stipulated shelf life. The value of the items, to be written-off, was significant and the boardís report was put up to the Army Commander.

The COI, presided by the General Officer Commanding, 16 Corps, Lt Gen T K Sapru, with two Major-Generals commanding divisions in the Northern Command, was convened about four days ago, sources said.

The official spokesperson for headquarters, Northern Command Lt Col S. Goswami maintained that the investigations pertain to procedural matters and have nothing to do with financial misappropriation.

A Lieutenant-General, heading the COI, could imply that the role of officers, up to the rank of Major-General, in the purchases is being investigated. It is understood that officers, who had been associated with the purchases and have since moved out on posting, are being summoned for their depositions before the COI.

Given the commitment of the Northern Command and the Eastern Command in counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations, the GOC-in-C of these two formations have been accorded special financial powers to procure equipment and items, which are required for operations or welfare, but are not supplied through the normal military procurement channel. Just about any item, whose demand is projected and justified by formations, can be procured through these financial powers.

Tents, for example, are no longer being manufactured by the ordnance factories and are procured through local purchases. The financial power of the Army Commander to sanction purchases runs into crores.



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