The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has quashed disciplinary proceedings against a Colonel of the Corps of Engineers who repeatedly tampered with his professional course gradings to influence his superior officers who were writing his Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs).
The June 1995 batch officer had been approved for the rank of Brigadier in the selection board held in 2011 but his result was withheld by the Army because it had been found that he had tampered with his course gradings for ACRs in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The Colonel had been found to have made changes in the printout of the Paramount Card (which contains professional course gradings of an officer) while submitting the same with his ACR form to superior officers.
A court of Inquiry and Summary of Evidence had been held against the officer by the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area, following which Army authorities recommended administrative action against him.
In the meantime, the Colonel confessed that he had made the changes to the hard copy of the Paramount Card where his A grading was upgraded to AI grading.
In his confession made in the reply to the show cause notice the Colonel said that he tampered with the course gradings so that the senior officers did not get negative influenced by his original course gradings as they had limited interaction with him. He pleaded to be pardoned as he realised his mistake and said he did not harm anyone in the organisation. When the matter came before the GOC-in-C Southern Command, he set aside the show cause notice and the proposed administrative action against the Colonel and instead ordered disciplinary action against him for moral turpitude which would mean that he would face a court martial.
The officer approached the AFT aggrieved with this order and contended that now that he had confessed to his action and revealed his defence, the same cannot be used against him in a court martial as this amounted to making an accused a witness against himself.
The counsel for the Colonel also argued that as per Army orders, an ACR is required to be initiated without any influence of any previous reports course grading etc but despite this order, Army officers were being asked to submit their Paramount Card containing all these details along with the ACR. The AFT bench finally ruled that the manipulation of the course gradings by the Colonel did not fall in the category of moral turpitude and set aside the disciplinary proceedings against the officer.
Cho La clash anniv passes by unnoticed
Not much is ever said or discussed in public forums about the Cho La clash which took place between Indian and Chinese troops in Sikkim on Oct 1, 1967. A remembrance advertisement by 10 JAK RIF in The Indian Express the other day was a solitary reminder. As compared to the Nathu La clash, which is more written about, Cho La was a unique action where after an initial clash the Chinese retreated immediately, perhaps because of the reverses suffered by them earlier in Nathu La.
Maj Gen VK Singh (retd), a keen military historian has written in detail about the clash and so has Maj Gen Randhir Sinh in his biography of the legendary Lt Gen Sagat Singh who was the GOC of the Division in Sikkim when the clashes at Nathu La and Cho La took place.
Located northwest of Nathu La, Cho La had 10 JAK RIF deployed in the area commanded by Lt Col Mahatam Singh. The unit was in the process of being replaced by 7/11 Gorkha Rifles (GR) in September 1967. Brig Kundan Singh was the Commander of 63 Brigade under which the area fell and Lt Col KB Joshi was the CO of 7/11 GR. The change of battalions was slated to take place on Oct 1.
Maj Gen VK Singh writes that on the morning on Oct 1 a scuffle took place at Point 15450 which had been handed over to 7/11 GR previous day. An argument about possession of a boundary marker at the post took place between the Chinese post commander and the Gorkha JCO which led to the JCO being bayonetted in the arm and the Gorkhas chopping off the Chinese post commander’s arm with a Khukri in retaliation.
An exchange of firing took place which ended with the Chinese occupying the post. A counter attack was launched by 7/11 GR next day and the post was recaptured after the Chinese reportedly had vacated it overnight. Two Vir Chakras were won by the unit in this action.
Maj Gen VK Singh writes that when the CO 10 JAK RIF learnt of the capture of the post he had asked his JCO, who had handed over the post to 7/11 GR to recapture it. The troops of 10 JAK RIF also occupied it after having found the Chinese to have vacated it. Maj Gen VK Singh says not a shot was fired or any casualties suffered in retaking of the post. The CO 10 JAK RIF was awarded a Maha Vir Chakra and the unit won three Vir Chakras too.
A Major of 10 JAK RIF who had failed to act and had gone into shock after the clash at the post was later court martialled.