Sunday, March 13, 2011

Army Officers assets will be in public domain: Army setting national standards

Army to get vigilance wing to curb scams: Gen VK Singh
New Delhi: Stung by a series of land scams and corruption cases, the Indian Army is now planning to set up an internal vigilance wing to keep a tab on its men and prevent such instances from recurring.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh said at the annual Army Day-eve press conference on Friday that one of his thrust areas since he took over office on March 31 last year was 'improving the internal health' of the force to stop corruption among its personnel.

"Though this (internal health) is a very vast subject, what we are looking for is a vigilance mechanism. We do not have this (vigilance) in the Army. We now looking at having one. Of course, we do take suo motu action on a lot of issues (corruption and scams) that come up," Singh said.

He was replying to a question on the numerous land scams and the action he had taken in the last nine months as army chief on improving the internal health of the force.

On the action against his predecessor, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, whose name figures in the last three land scams that the Army has faced, the army chief said that the former being a retired officer, the cases have been handed over to the defence ministry for appropriate action.

Kapoor's name figures in the Sukna episode in West Bengal, the Adarsh Housing Society in Colaba and and land adjacent to the Central Ordnance Depot Kandivali being handed over to a private developer. The last two cases are in Mumbai.

"We (the Army) do not have the means to do investigation on these matters, such as checking out some bank accounts. The defence ministry will decide on the action needed in these cases," Singh said.

With regard to serving officers involved in the Adarsh Housing Society episode, he said the Army would initiate action against them as per the service rules and the army law. "We have a legal system in the army which will take care of this," he added.

To a query if he would be the first army chief to declare his assets in the public domain and set a precedent for others to follow, Singh said there existed an internal system under which officers filed their movable and immovable property returns every year and on all occasions when they bought or sold property.

"I am sure at some point in time, the assets details of serving officers will come into the public domain," he said indicating he would not mind such open declaration of his property details.

In the last two years, the Army has been hit by a series of land scams beginning with the Sukna military station in West Bengal, Adarsh Housing Society in Colaba in 2009 and Central Ordnance Depot land in Kandivalli.

In all these cases, army officers had given No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to private builders to construct educational institution or highrise housing complex.

Taking note of these instances, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had announced Thursday that his ministry would make stricter rules for NOCs so that lower level officers could not misuse it and that the Defence Estates land would be computerised for maintaining proper records.
Army to get vigilance wing to curb scams: Gen VK Singh

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