Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar rapped the headquarters of the three services — Army, Navy and Air Force — for taking action against personnel who make representations to him and whose complaints he forwards to the services for inquiry.
In a letter written to the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Vice Chief of Naval Staff and the Vice Chief of Air Staff, the Ministry of Defence has conveyed the strong reservations of the Defence Minister that instead of informing him about the inquiry held into the complaints, the respective services have been initiating action against the complainants.
The MoD letter, accessed by The Indian Express, says the minister receives representations and complaints from various persons including serving armed forces personnel. Based on the nature and gravity of the complaints, directions of the Defence Minister are communicated to service headquarters for looking into or inquiring into the allegations made in these complaints. “Of late it has been observed that on certain occasions instead of apprising the ministry/RM of the findings of the inquiry conducted, action has been taken against the complaining officials including attachment at other formations/establishments,” the letter states.
It goes on to say that, “RM has taken a serious note of the matter and has directed that henceforth service headquarters shall restrain from taking action against complaining officials. If any action needs to be taken as per procedure, the same shall be furnished to the Ministry for seeking approval of the RM when the complaint is addressed to RM and inquiry has been ordered by him”. Compliance of these instructions have been ordered at all levels of the three services.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior official of the MoD said that Parrikar has also directed that all inquiries in complaints which have been marked by him should be conducted in a time bound manner. The minister has not been satisfied by the slow response to the complaints and the inordinately long time taken by the chain of command to respond to him.
Senior Army officials conversant with the military law said that action has been initiated in many cases against complainants based on rules and regulations mentioned in the Defence Services Rules (DSR) which forbid the breaking of chain of command while communicating. “However, many officers as well as jawans have been writing directly to the Defence Minister after finding that their complaints are not being addressed at lower levels,” he said.
Recently, an Army officer of the rank of Colonel even met the Defence Minister personally, after seeking time from him, to air his grievance after his repeated complaints to even the Chief of Army Staff did not receive the attention that they deserved.