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Army Chief questions officers moving court

Army Chief questions officers moving court

Asks why file individual cases related to insurgency areas

In a significant move, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has expressed his “disagreement” over a spate in court cases filed by serving officers, even as he warned that moral turpitude will not go unpunished. He has also halted activities of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) in field areas.

Faced with a “running commentary” on the social media over his decisions, General Rawat addressed Colonel-level officers posted in New Delhi at Manekshaw Centre here on Saturday.
He questioned the need for serving officers to file individual cases challenging ongoing criminal cases faced by fellow officers serving in insurgency-hit areas.

An officer, speaking to The Tribune, quoted the Army Chief as saying: “The Army was fighting these cases, now if these guys (the petitioners in court) lose the case, what will happen?”

In an unprecedented move, nearly 700 Army officers and soldiers have approached the Supreme Court against dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that shielded them from prosecution without the Centre’s nod. General Rawat spoke about restructuring the Army, cost-cutting, rank-parity with civilian officers, anomalies in salary, opening of Cantonment roads and also the non-functional upgrade (NFU), sources said.

Addressing moral turpitude, General Rawat said the person would no longer just be “boarded out”. He would get exemplary punishment like jail and dismissal, irrespective of rank, he asserted.

He said there would be no AWWA units in field areas and wanted the activities to be coordinated keeping in mind that several of the wives of officers were working professionals.

On rank parity and equivalence with civilian officers, he said armed forces officers were different, unique and formed an “elite” service, even above the all-India services and asked that officers should not compare themselves with civilian officers. His remarks triggered a tirade on the social media on Sunday with questions being raised as to how terming the forces as “elite” meant nothing as a democratic structure ran by rules and regulations.

The Army Chief said criticism should not come before decisions were made. He referred to the study ordered to abolish the rank of Brigadier. “Let the study be complete before running to comment,” he said.
Speaking on NFU — another matter before the SC — the Army Chief said it would come but the matter was sub-judice and the military service pay could possibly be withdrawn as retaliation. NFU was granted to civilian officials in 2006, prompting the officers to file a case in the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2015. The Defence Ministry filed a special leave petition in the SC recently. The 7th Central Pay Commission has allowed NFU to Army officers.

‘Severe punishment for moral turpitude’

The Army Chief said exemplary punishment like jail, dismissal, irrespective of rank, will be given in case of moral turpitude

Activities of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) have been halted in field areas, he added

Armed forces officers are unique and formed of an ‘elite’ service, even above the all-India services, General Rawat said

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