Thursday, June 21, 2012


by Shobha di

The handsome former Chief of the Indian Army who is now the Governor of Arunachal, General JJ Singh has made a profound statement in the Indian Express today where in an interview he claims that he ‘wrote-off’ two laptops while hammering out the 200,000 words that make up his autobiography! Such unbridled passion!! One wonders how many other things he ‘wrote-off’ apart from Generals Ravi Arora and VK Singh while implementing the by now infamous ‘Op Moses’. And since any comment is trashed by the Government and certain members of the press as being communal, I might as well say ‘hai rabba' to express my deep sense of admiration for the man whose will be but a hard act to follow.

The Chief benefactor of Op Moses has within days of taking over launched his own Op Cover Up despite having made brave statements about not brushing things under the carpet. With the media watching the carpet with an eagle eye, the good General is stuffing the Suhag scandal in his already full closet. That closet has a few secrets that need to be looked at in light of the decisive step that General Bikram Singh has taken even before his name-plate has gone up outside Army House!

Sources close to the previous Chief, General VK Singh had confirmed that the Show Cause Notice was issued on the basis of the findings of a Court of Enquiry held on the orders of Eastern Command. It was the Chief of Staff of Eastern Command who had asked Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag to investigate the complaint sent by an officer about the wrong doings in the Corps’ Intelligence unit. This letter, written in January this year asked for a reply by end February and it is now common knowledge that Eastern Command did not get any response from 3 Corps. So who should have chased 3 Corps? The Army Commander himself! I guess technically he should have also been issued a SCN, but as the Chief designate had General VK Singh done that, we would have lost many Generals – albeit retired ones! I’m quite sure all the dearies with big big ‘muchis’ like Ashok Mehta, Shankar Prasad and what’s his name… that Kadyan fellow, would have spluttered and had instant heart attacks had VK (looked oh so dapper in uniform!) done that. And that on Prime Time! Sexy reality TV dahlings!

But let’s get serious - so now the ‘bail out’ has been done by the same personality (he too looks oh so sexy in uniform – you can’t blame me for going on about this, I love those medals! A few more and they would go even to the back of the chest!). All those twits yammering about Institutional Integrity will no doubt say daft sentimental things like “the message to the men will be very clear that you can abdicate responsibility and nothing will happen to you etc. etc.” Those guys are all loosers – ask that cutie who keeps coming on NDTV who was also once in the Army… that guy with a funny nose, who is often talking to Barkha (she really must do something about her dress sense) – the one who said thank god VK’s tenure is over because he only fought loosing battles and who wants to be on the loosing side anyway! The way he jumped ship, Nelson would have been proud of him. Now that a Metropolitan judge has summoned the former Chief in the bribery case, the cutie and all the others will be pontificating on TV tonight for sue about how right they were! Who ever is so daft as to refuse a bribe! And even more daft to report it!

We are now going to get a general to lead the Eastern Army who did not have the courage to reply to a SCN and who promptly ran away on leave. As they say moral courage is NO LONGER REQUIRED these days. So what’s the big deal? That’s been the trend of leadership in any case. Ask the tailors in MHOW who stitch all senior officer’s suits – they’ll tell you how dog tabs are accompanied by trousers where the zip is put at the back!  

Anyway, these Generals all confuse me… my knees going weak also affects other parts of my body. I need to find a legal eagle type to explain these things to me. It seems the disciplinary order imposed by General VK Singh when he was COAS was the result of a quasi-judicial decision in exercise of powers and discharge of duties under the Army Act and Rules thereunder. The choice from alternatives available under the disciplinary rules was discretionary with the disciplinary authority. The judgment of the disciplinary authority cannot be reviewed by the same disciplinary authority because the present COAS himself was a part of the problem. While the SCN was not disposed of fully, and it was open for the successor incumbent COAS to judge the case in the light of the response given to the notice, he had no moral jurisdiction to overturn the DV ban. Most importantly, he cannot sit in judgement of himself having been the Eastern Army Commander who was morally also in the same little boat! At best he should have recused himself!

It is settled law that a quasi-judicial decision can be set aside only for malafides or an error of law apparent on the face of the record and only by the High Court or a designated Appellate Authority. It cannot be set aside by the successor COAS because he is NOT the appellate or reviewing authority. The exercise of discretion was by the then COAS. A successor incumbent cannot sit in judgment on that exercise of discretion because he is a co-equal and the exercise of power was complete in law at the point of first instance. Only a higher power can do it.

So I guess that brings us right back to dear ol’ Antony! The ball, as always, is now squarely back in his court! Poor dear… he must be feeling like one of those guys they show in the comic books who is trying to unsuccessfully get rid of sticky chewing gum! But you know the Antony-types, they always have a great cop out – orders from above! It’s time the poor old dear realized that certificates of good character from has-beens who the bureaucracy outwitted completely will not really matter. It really must be very scary for him to be surrounded by such specimens – each a bearded Greek God! And when in ceremonials they even have swords!

Why has the Indian judiciary become so ineffective in controlling the exercise of powers? Looks like everyone is sitting in judgement of himself and giving fancy certificates exonerating themselves! The list is growing by the day. Oh dear, I am really worried sick thinking about what can happen. But now I’m off for JJs book launch… maybe if I’m lucky he might even tell me who will be replacing General Suhag as the COAS in 2017. Then I can write a tell-all book on ‘Op Bale Bale’!

The views expressed by the author are her own and left to public to judge and rationalise for themselves.

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