Asserting that there is “no problem” in the Indian Army, the Chief of Army Staff General V. K. Singh on Friday said that a “lot of things are being thrown up by the media.”
The Army Chief who retires on May 31 and had issued a show-cause notice two days ago to 3 Corps GOC Lt-General Dalbir Singh Suhag for alleged lapses in handling a failed intelligence operation in Assam's Jorhat district last year, defended his action.
“Let me state a few hard facts. Show-cause notice is issued on certain hard grounds by senior officer to junior officer. It is the moral duty of the junior officer to reply to the senior officer, rather than running around to the media. Why has he done it? It requires certain answer,” the Army Chief said. He was answering queries by journalists after releasing a book Assault on Merit – the Untold Story of Civil-Military Relations, written by advocate R. K. Anand.
The Army Chief had issued show cause notice to Lt-Gen. Suhag, who is tipped to be heading the Army in 2014. Lt-Gen. Suhag has been asked to reply to the notice within a week, failing which an ex-parte decision may taken against him. The three-star officer is due for promotion to the rank of an Army Commander on May 31.
When asked about his meeting with senior Army officers earlier in the day, General V. K. Singh said that he just wanted to talk to them and tell them how they can become better officers. The Army Chief who fought a legal battle with the government on the issue of his date of birth said that there was no infighting in the Army.
To a query about the case filed by Lt-General (Retired) Tejinder Singh, the Army chief said Lt-Gen. Tejinder Singh should place the facts which are believed to be in his possession before the court.
Earlier, in his remarks soon after releasing the book, General Singh said there was need for “360 degree” evaluation of an officer. “It is important to know what his peers think, what his superiors think and what his subordinates think about him. We have to judge him wholly for leadership qualities,'' he said.
General Singh said that Army “is the most honourable career anybody can think of.'' He said the Army was under oath for defending the Constitution and safeguarding the integrity of the nation. “When you start your career in the Army, your sole ambition is to command the battalion in which your are commissioned. Anything beyond this is a bonus. When you rise in your career, certain things can go wrong. We have to see what corrective measures can be taken,'' he told the gathering.
The Army Chief said that he had made efforts during his tenure to ensure that decisions were based on objectivity. “The problem is that we have become too transparent and there are road blocks in such transparent functioning,” he said.
Regretting instances when senior Army officers had to knock at the doors of the courts to seek justice relating to their promotions and other grievances, General Singh expressed the hope that the system was changing but there was resistance to change. His observations assume significance in the wake of recent incident in Ladakh where jawans had risen in protest against officers though the Army had dismissed as an act of indiscipline. A court of inquiry had been ordered into the incident near Leh.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Anand said that bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence was “responsible'' for assault on merit which often translated into negation of principle of justice and fair play. Mr. Anand who has represented 30 Army officers of the rank of generals and Lt-Generals in several cases in various courts, called for putting an end to “political favouritism” if the armed forces were to survive and prosper.