THE Indian Army has instituted a Court of Inquiry (COI) against Major General R K Hooda in the Adarsh housing society scam. Hooda will face the COI under the Army Act since he is a serving officer. Hooda had been approved for the next rank, but will now be attached at the Army’s Southern Command headquarters in Pune to face the COI headed by a serving Lieutenant General. Major General Hooda was the general officer commanding (Maharashtra and Goa) during former army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s tenure, before being posted to Delhi five months ago. The officer’s name figures in the list of the more than 100 allottees of the 31-floor high-rise in Colaba. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking into the role of retired army and navy officers, Defence Estates officers, bureaucrats, and Maharashtra politicians. The naked collusion between Army officers with politicians and bureaucrats loomed 31 storeys high when the Adarsh Society scam was discovered.
It suggested a new low in corruption – flats meant for war widows and defence veterans had been cornered at prices unheard of for Mumbai’s pricey Colaba area. The scam came to light after Western Naval Commander Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin sent a letter to the Army headquarters and the Defence Ministry seeking action against the building for posing a security threat to military installations. The high-rise is built on 6,450 sq meters within the Colaba naval area and was cleared on the condition of housing war veterans but now has 104 members including senior Army commanders, a former environment minister, legislators and state bureaucrats. The Army and Navy are exploring the option of demolishing the housing society after extensive evidence that it was built on defence land. The Ministry of Defence may also look at invoking the Works of Defence Act, 1903, which empowers it to acquire a building or installation, or even demolish it. The Adarsh Housing Scam has already caused Ashok Chavan to quit as Maharashtra Chief Minister. Apart from three former Service chiefs, including Generals N C Vij and Deepak Kapoor, and several other officers, Major General Hooda was one of the flat allottees in the illegal 31-storey building in the premium Coloba area. The three-member CoI headed by a Lieutenant General, which will convene early next week, will probe the exact role played by Major General Hooda, who has been summoned to Pune, in the said conspiracy and how and on what basis did he get the membership in the Adarsh Society. The promotion of Major General Hooda has been put on hold since he was placed under a DV (disciplinary and vigilance) ban after the Adarsh controversy erupted.
The clearances for the 31-floor building in Colaba were taken on the emotive argument of providing flats to Kargil War heroes and their dependents but the majority of the flats were actually cornered by Maharashtra politicians, bureaucrats and senior defence officials. The Indian Defence Ministry has already ordered a comprehensive CBI inquiry into the Adarsh scam after examining reports from the Army, Navy and the DGDE (Directorate General of Defense Estates), which held that the high-rise clearly violated security regulations in the vicinity of Navy’s Western Command HQs. Both defence minister A K Antony and Army chief General V K Singh have promised strict action against any serving officer who is found to be guilty in the scam. MoD has also said that it will give prompt permission to CBI to question any serving officer and will have no objection if they are prosecuted.This scam depicts the mindset of Indian armed forces personnel, who are guided by sleaze and perfidy. However, this particular scandal shows how low Indian Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals can stoop to satisfy their greed. The survivors of the “Shaheeds” of the Kargil episode, for whom these flats were meant to be, must be cursing these insatiable crooks to hell – Dailymailnews