Army officers involved in arms racket, Supreme Court told

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  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    NEW DELHI: Months after the Army punished 73 officers for illegal sale of their non-service weapons to arms dealers in Rajasthan's border districts, the Supreme Court was told on Monday that Army units deputed in Jammu and Kashmir were found to be involved in 104 cases of sale purchase of weapons of various types.

    The Army was forced to take action against its officers after the Supreme Court raised security concerns on the basis of a PIL, which had five years ago claimed that a gunrunning racket involving Army officers was rife in the border districts of Rajasthan.

    Rajasthan police had registered 14 FIRs, of which the one filed by Jaipur anti-corruption bureau on July 18, 2007 pertained to 284 cases. The state government, in its affidavit before the apex court, said, "During investigation, 304 more cases came to light on perusal of records and 41 cases pertaining to licences issued from the state of Punjab came to light."

    But the shocking part of the affidavit related to involvement of Army units posted in militancy affected Kathua, Kupwara and Srinagar districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

    The state said, "104 cases pertain to Army companies deputed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and in respect whereof, the letters were addressed twice by deputy inspector general of police, ACB Jaipur to district collectors of Kathua, Kupwara and Srinagar. The investigation in that regard is pending."

    A bench of Justices S S Nijjar and H L Gokhale said it would peruse the affidavits and reports submitted in sealed cover before taking up the PIL for detailed hearing.

    If Rajasthan detailed the action for prosecution it had taken against its administrative officials in the case of grant of illegal licences involving non-service weapons of Army officials, the Army too detailed the court martial proceedings and punishment given to the 72 officers and a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) found involved in the illegal sale and purchase of non-service weapons.

    Of the 29 officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel, colonel and major found involved in the sale of weapons, 15 were "punished" with "severe reprimand and a fine of Rs 500", two were "reprimanded" and rest were awarded punishment ranging from one to three years loss of service either for promotion or pension purposes.

    The 25 officers posted in Indian Army Training Team at Bhutan, who were found to have imported ammunition in excess of the authorized 50 rounds, were all let off with "severe displeasure (non-recordable).

    The PIL filed by advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma had in 2007 alleged that the government had not taken action against Army officers despite the Rajasthan home ministry finding that they were involved in selling their non-service weapons to arms dealers and private persons.

    The Army inquired into the incidents and told the apex court in 2008 that weapons procured and sold in breach of Army Act and Customs Act were of both prohibited and non-prohibited bore and "a total of 72 officers and one JCO were blameworthy" in these cases.

    The Times of India on Mobile
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