The Army has ordered a re-investigation into the role of a former Commanding Officer (CO) of a battalion of the Brigade of Guards, in the rank of Colonel, with regards to the alleged suicide committed by the wife of the second in command of the unit deployed in Rajasthan in October 2018.
In a move that has raised eyebrows, the Army has set aside the first Court of Inquiry held into the incident in November 2018 and has ordered a fresh Court of Inquiry with explicit instruction to look into any possible acts of moral turpitude which the CO may have indulged into. The previous inquiry has been set aside on the plea that it did not have proper composition.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express reveal that the new Court of Inquiry has been ordered by the Jodhpur-based HQs 12 Corps on January 29, 2018. A Brigadier has been appointed the presiding officer of the inquiry along with two officers of the rank of Colonel and a lady officer of the rank of Major. The lady officer has been detailed because it is felt that during the course of the inquiry ladies may be asked to come and depose before the inquiry.
The incident pertains to October 26, 2018 when the wife of a Lt Colonel allegedly committed suicide in Pokhran. The CO of the battalion, who was later removed from command, is alleged to have been in consistent touch with the lady, who was the wife of his immediate subordinate, and hence his role is being examined.
As per the orders issued by the Army, the Court of Inquiry shall take the opinion of the medical authorities regarding the cause of the death of the lady. “State of physical and mental health of the lady be also taken on record through competent witnesses such as husband and doctors who may have examined her,” the order reads.
It goes to direct that phone call records of the known telephone numbers of the lady may also be obtained and examined to find out whether the former CO had made calls, messages, WhatsApp communication to verify the allegations made against him.
The orders also explicitly mention that the inquiry should also take into consideration any other relevant facts or information considered necessary, including acts of moral turpitude, if any, which may come during the Court of Inquiry proceedings with regard to allegations made against the Colonel.
Army sources inform that there had been considerable upheaval in the battalion over the death of the officer’s wife and a spate of allegations had been levelled against the then CO. Senior officers of the chain of command had intervened to bring the matters in control and the Colonel had been immediately shifted from the unit pending the first inquiry. It is also learnt that he had been given a clean chit during that inquiry. However, subsequent to a legal opinion tendered by the Judge Advocate General’s branch of Army’s Southern Command, the matter is once again being examined.