The directorate general of recruiting at Army Headquarters changed assessment norms for selection of officer candidates to select branches at a time when the son of the director general (recruiting) himself was attending the Services Selection Board (SSB) procedure, an investigation by The Indian Express has found. The move to change the norms compelled a serving Army officer to complain to the Chief of Army Staff, the investigation revealed.
It was found that the recruiting directorate ordered an immediate softening of norms for selection of candidates to the Territorial Army (TA), Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) branch and Army Education Corps (AEC) in May 2015, when the director general’s son appeared for an officer’s commission in TA. It was only when the serving Army officer, closely associated with the selection process, made a series of complaints that the Army Headquarters reversed the change of norms.
Before he made the official complaint to Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh, the complainant, Lt Col Channpreet Singh, a group task officer (GTO) in 11 SSB in Allahabad, made representations to the commandant of the selection centre (East) and to the director, Defence Institute of Psychological Research, protesting ‘violation’ of procedures for selection of SSB candidates.
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In his complaint, the officer quoted several irregularities. To begin with, the candidate in question appeared for selection in the TA by himself in May 2015, whereas he was supposed to have appeared with his batch at the end of 2014. “The detailment of a single candidate for the batch in question seems quite irrational when there is no urgency on the pretext of his becoming overage for the next TA batch scheduled to be assessed in July 2015,” the GTO said.
The officer also alleged that the candidate was clubbed with a batch of jawans aspiring for an officer’s commission in the Army Cadet College (ACC) wing of the Indian Military Academy (IMA). The GTO challenged this on the ground that the jawans come from a very different educational background and age profile and hence being clubbed with them was not in order.
The third alleged irregularity pertained to a new policy for lowering the datum for discussing candidates for TA, JAG and AEC entries which was promulgated by the recruiting directorate on May 8, 2015, when the batch in question was already under way. The orders issued by the directorate clearly mention that the changes in the selection criteria were to be implemented “with immediate effect” and the SSB complied. The officer complained that the urgency for lowering the datum from 240 to 224 could not be understood as the rest of the batch, of which the candidate was a part, was accessed at 240. “How can the directorate general of recruiting justify the formulation of the final merit list in such a scenario,” the officer complained.
On July 10, 2015, the Adjutant General of the Army, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, responded to the complaint and set aside the orders of the recruiting directorate. The datum was ordered to be reverted to 240 for TA, JAG and AEC entries and the clubbing of batches was ordered not to be undertaken. No action was, however, taken against anyone for issuing ‘arbitrary guidelines’.
The Indian Express sent a questionnaire to the PRO (Army), Col Rohan Anand, for the Army’s version. The PRO confirmed that the candidate in question is the son of the current Director General of Recruiting and that he had applied for a commission in TA in 2014. The PRO added that ‘it is reiterated that the candidate in question was assessed and qualified as per old higher parameters which existed before May 2015”. He added that ‘the review leading to lowering of datum marks for TA entry was undertaken in May 2015 considering the nature and scope of tasks of TA officers during war and peace and also on account of shortage in TA entry due to low selection rate of SSB”. However, there was no explanation why the norms were reverted to previous levels following the complaint.