Parrikar orders CBI probe against 2 Army generals

Defence Minister Manohar ParrikarDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar today ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against two serving Army major generals in a disproportionate assets case.

This is first time that an inquiry has been ordered by the government against top serving  army officers.

Top defence ministry sources said, "Actions have been taken on the basis of various complaints received against these officers."

In pursuit of a zero tolerance policy on corruption, Parrikar has asked the CBI to investigate all movable and immovable assets of these officers.

Major General Ashok Kumar of Army Service Corps and Major General S S Lamba of Army Ordinance Corps are accused of paying bribes to get promotions.

According to sources, the promotions were approved during the tenure of former military secretary Lt. Gen R Bhalla. Questions were also raised against Lt Gen Bhalla (Retd) regarding the bribery cases pertaining to promotions.

The ministry had in September red-flagged the promotion of certain officers following allegations of impropriety.

The CBI will now look into the complaints and report back to the ministry. Giving a background to the case, sources said that a meeting of the Special Promotion Board of the Army was held last year to fill up the vacancy of three Lieutenant Generals for which about 33 officers were considered.

A set of names cleared by the board was sent to the defence ministry. However, following the meeting of the board, a series of complaints against some officers surfaced, many of which were being circulated on the social media, perhaps in a bid to eliminate them from the competition for the senior slots.

Taking cognizance of the matter, Defence Minister Parrikar himself looked into the issue. It was found that one of the two officers, against whom the ministry has roped in the agency, had faced a CBI inquiry few years back over allegations of corruption in a project undertaken by Border Roads Organisation.

The CBI did not find enough evidence for criminal prosecution. "They suggested that this does not fall in the ambit of criminality, it falls in the ambit of disciplinary procedure guidelines," sources said.

"BRO is a mixed cadre organisation. The matter came to the Army. The Army said that the act pertained to civilian issues and hence action cannot be taken up by them. The matter got tossed from here to there as army disciplinary proceeding is different from that of the civilians," the sources said, adding the actual proceedings have not started.

In the meantime, his promotion came up and he got the Discipline and Vigilance (DV) clearance since there was no formal proceedings against him.