Indian Navy: Personnel and service matters
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Apr 08 2015
NEITHER COURT, NOR MARTIAL - Questions swirl over Navy's internal inquiries
Question to sailor Rakesh Kumar: Who are the officers for whom special requests were made?
Answer: CNS (chief of naval staff), VCNS (vice chief of naval staff), DCNS (deputy chief of naval staff), COL (chief of logistics), COP (chief of personnel), Cmdr OP Kaura.
Question to Commander Girraj: Were you in the knowledge of these special requests being catered from Store Victualling Yard?
Answer: Yes sir, this was briefed to me by my predecessor and I continued to follow it.
In the normal legal course, such answers, as given to a naval Board of Inquiry (BoI) would have resulted in summons to the alleged beneficiaries. But not in Indian Navy . It dismissed them as “wild allegations“ and punished the sailor who allegedly took bribe from a contractor, and a couple of middle-ranking officers who were his supervisors.
Such selective implementation of justice is not an exception in the Navy but widespread, a TOI investigation has found.
According to proceedings of several BoIs, some recent orders of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and the Supreme Court and several sources, the BoIs of Navy , and court-martials based on them, often use skewed and legally unsound processes to arrive at conclusions. In the process careers, reputations and even family lives of many middle rung officers and sailors have been ruined. Most of them have gone silent, struggling to rebuild their lives.
In cases where affected personnel fought back, Navy's decisions have been overturned.In just the last few months, the AFT has ordered the navy to take back two sacked commanders. The Supreme Court threw out Navy's challenge to one of those tribunal orders.
Last summer, a BoI was ordered after sailor Rakesh Kumar posted with INS India, which provides administrative and logistics support to the Naval headquarters, admitted to taking bribe from a meat supplier, after accounting irregularities emerged. During questioning, the sailor admitted that discrepancy was not just limited to meat procurement, but also in vegetables and fruits. When questioned, he said it was “made to cater for the special requests of VIPs“.
Kumar named most of the Navy brass, including then chief Admiral DK Joshi, then vice chief and present navy chief Admiral Robin K Dhowan, then deputy chief and present eastern command chief Vice Admiral Satish Soni, and many other senior officers.
The BoI immediately turned to Kumar's superior Commander Girraj, who admitted to the manipulation.
The BoI, headed by Captain Sriram Amur, did not summon, or record statements, of any of the senior officers named as the beneficiaries of the manipulation. More over, the BoI report was submitted to chief of personnel Vice Admiral P Murugesan, one of the alleged beneficiaries of the procurement system that was under probe.
Asked why the BoI did not probe the alleged beneficiaries, the Navy in a written response to TOI said: “The indicted individuals had admitted to their wrongdoings. However, the said indicted individuals raised wild allegations on other senior officers and cast baseless aspersions in an attempt to cover up their own misdemeanours.“ The statement said: “Having examined the case in its entirety , the BoI may not have felt the necessity to summon any other witnesses.“
Internal justice questioned
Apr 09 2015
NEITHER COURT, NOR MARTIAL - Navy's arbitrary internal justice system ruins lives
Procurement of vegetables and meat to breach of security, many cases are swept by the arbitrariness of the justice dispensation system in Indian Navy , according to several Board of Inquiry (BoI) reports accessed by TOI and recent orders of the Supreme Court and Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).
In January 2014, a commodore in Kochi-based southern naval command was reported by another officer for “stealing the affections“ of his wife, though the two were divorced three months earlier. Most of the BoI findings were based on the unilateral confessions of the accused officer who was discharged from service with a 25% cut in his pension.“Officers have been sacked in the past too for affairs, but you don't arbitrarily slash someone's pension,“ one of the officers said.
TOI met several officers who have been at the receiving end of such inquiries, including many who are now struggling to settle down in civil life. In many cases, `stealing the affections of a fellow officer's wife' was the main allegation to mar careers and reputations.
In 2011, Navy constituted a BoI in Mumbai against four officers, including Commander Kalyan Kumar, accusing them of breaching information security , leaking ship movement details and unauthorized contact with foreign nationals. Based on its findings, the Navy chief decided against court-martial and invoked his authority to dismiss three of the officers, while letting off the fourth one.
Kumar appealed in AFT and SC and got his dismissal quashed. The AFT's Mumbai bench pointed out that the officer who was let off by the Navy with a warning was the one who, in fact, exchanged emails with others on the ship's sailing schedule and carried official data in unauthorised pen drive. “In spite of that, he was awarded only severe displeasure for a period of five years,“ the AFT observed.
The SC upheld the AFT order and Kumar is now awaiting orders to rejoin the Navy . One of his batch-mates told TOI: “They practically made him an outcast overnight, and he couldn't find a job for two years. He sent his daughter to a boarding school to keep her away from the social stigma that his family went through. Worse, he sold his only house to sustain his family and pay for the legal expenses.“
The AFT has recently also ordered the Navy to take back another officer, Commander RV Desai, who was posted on aircraft carrier INS Viraat when he was sacked in April 2013. He was accused of sending lewd messages to women.
According to several sources TOI spoke to, the latest instance of `skewed' naval justice administration is the inquiry into the February 26, 2014 accident aboard INS Sindhuratna, when smoke engulfed sailors' cabin. Two officers were killed and several others injured, prompting then Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi to resign taking responsibility for repeated accidents.
The BoI into the accident has held seven officers guilty.But sources pointed out serious conflict of interest in the case of most BoI members, including its president Rear Admiral SV Bhokare. As the `flag officersubmarines', Bhokare was directly responsible for evaluating submarines after refitmodernization etc. Sindhuratna had just been out in the sea after an `extended short refit' was completed in December 2013.“He should have been a witness, and here he was presiding over the inquiry ,“ said a senior officer.
The second member of the Sindhuratna inquiry was directly reporting to Bhokare while the third one was from the naval dockyard where the submarine had undergone refits.
Asked about the conflict of interest, a written statement from the Navy said: “In case incidents relate to ship submarine aircraft, the individuals with requisite specialised knowledge, service experience and appropriate seniority are nominated for such inquiries. The proceedings of BoIs are thereafter thoroughly examined by professionals and legal experts at Command and HQ, MoD (Navy) level, prior approval by appropriate authority . The causative analysis undertaken is then disseminated panNavy for implementation.“
The Navy went on to say , “In the case of Sindhuratna also, due to the gravity of the incident, officers of appropriate rank, seniority and professional experience were appointed to thoroughly investigate the case. The BoI proceedings were examined as per the laid down procedures and no conflict of interest was found.“
Recruitment of officers
10+2 B Tech cadets’ selection only through JEE (Main) ranks
The Navy is going hi-tech with a vengeance.With state-of-the-art warships, weapons and sensors being progressively inducted by the force, it wants “sea warriors“ capable of handling the intricate challenges of the massive technological revolution under way .
First, the Navy implemented plans to ensure virtually all its new officers have B Tech degrees, apart from the traditional military and leadership skills, when they graduate from the Indian Naval Academy in Kerala.
And now, it has been decided that the short-listing of candidates aspiring to join the force through the 10+2 B Tech cadet entry scheme will be based “only on JEE (Main) ranks“ achieved in the all-India joint entrance exam conducted for admission into different engineering colleges. Consequently , PCM (physics, chem istry the , maths) percentage obtained in the Class XII board exams will not be valid for this scheme any longer.“Different state examination boards have gone berserk in awarding high marks in Class XII. We were finding the quality of candidates coming for the SSB (services selection board) interview or training very uneven,“ said a senior officer.
“The JEE (Main) ranks, which the CBSE has agreed to share with us, will be a better benchmark. With the government approving the move, youngsters will have to appear for the JEE (Main) in 2017 to be eligible for the January 2018 course at INA,“ he added.
As was earlier reported by TOI, the first direct-entry batch of BTech officers passed out from the INA in May 2013. Since then, the Navy has been tweaking the three officer entry schemes.
First are the naval cadets who undergo the three-year course at the tri-service National Defence Academy (NDA) at Kadakwasla (Pune) after clearing the UPSC exam and SSB interview. These cadets, who number 78 every year, get commissioned as officers with B Tech degrees after another year of intensive training at the INA. Then, there are the around cadets who directly joint 110 cadets who directly joint the INA for the four-year B Tech programme after clearing UPSC exams in two batches every year. Under the third and largest scheme, around 120 cadets will now be shortlisted for the SSB interview only on the basis of their JEE (Mains) ranks. All this has become necessary because the Navy needs a strong cadre of officers with advanced technical expertise to handle the sophisticated “platforms“, weapon systems and sensors in the pipeline.
The Times of India, Sep 05 2015
Give permanent jobs to naval women: Delhi HC
Women in services are here to stay and “sexist bias or service bias“ can't be allowed to block their progress, the Delhi high court observed allowing permanent commission for female naval officers. Putting officers from the navy at par with those from Army and Air Force who already have been granted permanent commission opportunities the HC allowed a bunch of pleas seeking permanent commission for them in the force, saying “sexist bias and service bias“ would not be allowed to block progress of women.
Reminding the Central government and other opponents of the scheme that “women are here to stay“ the court allowed their petitions.It noted that women today “work shoulder to shoulder“ with their male counterparts. Questioning the reluctance of the government, the court made it clear it would “frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women“.
It quoted an Urdu poet Majaz Lakhnavi “Tere maathe pe yeh aanchal bahut hi khoob hai lekin, tu is aanchal se ik parcham bana leti to acha tha“ to stress that women should be granted full opportunities to make their mark in every profession. While the Army and Air Force allow permanent commission for women, the Navy has limited women officers only to short service commission of 14 years. A bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri also allowed the women naval officers' plea seeking retirement benefits like pension.Women naval officers were not eligible for pension as it required 20 years of service.
The order came on the plea of several naval women officers, both retired and serving, from the logistics, education and air traffic control departments of the Navy . The women naval officers in their pleas in the high court had sought similar rights as their counterparts in the other two wings of the armed forces.
They also alleged gender discrimination, saying while women officers were only entitled to short service commission, men were entitled to both short service as well as permanent commissions.Pointing out that women aren't allowed on ships under the existing rules, they also face discrimination in promotion, the women had urged HC to intervene.
In 2010, women in the army and the Air Force were allowed permanent commission by the high court.
2016, Permanent commission: granted
The Times of India, Apr 21 2016
Now, permanent commission for women in Navy After the Army and IAF, the Navy too has now granted permanent commission (PC) to seven women officers who were inducted as short-service commission (SSC) officers in the education and naval constructor cadre in 2008-2009.
The Navy will also allow women officers to join as pilots of maritime patrol aircraft like P-8Is, IL-38s and Dorniers from next year. But the force has not yet finalised a policy on allowing women officers to serve on board sea-faring warships.
There are only about 340 women officers who have been granted PC in select branches of Army and IAF , even though they have been allowed to join the three services since the early-1990s as SSC officers for a maximum tenure of 14-15 years.
With 51 women officers al ready serving as “observers“ on maritime patrol aircraft, the Navy on Wednesday said “additional avenues“ were now also being opened up for them. “Starting in 2017, women officers can choose to join as pilots of maritime reconnaissance planes, as also in the naval armament inspectorate cadre,“ said an officer.
In all, eight cadres will now be open for women in the Navy.But women pilots will be allowed to fly only maritime reconnaissance aircraft, not naval fighters like MiG-29Ks which operate from aircraft carriers.
Around the globe in 8 months: Indian Navy's all-women team embark on historic voyage
The mission named 'Navika Sagar Parikrama' with six women officers led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi was flagged off the Goa port by Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
First time in the country, a team of six-women Indian Navy officers embarked on an adventurous journey in their small sail boat to cover a distance of more than 21,600 nautical miles in eight months around the globe.
INS Tarini sailed off the Goa port and would return in March 2018. The mission has been undertaken to showcase the empowerment of women in the Navy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a staunch advocate of promoting women power in the forces, also offered his wishes to the crew.
The mission named 'Navika Sagar Parikrama' with six women officers led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi was flagged off by Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in presence of her predecessor and Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba.
"This is not an occasion which can happen once in five years, once in 10 years. This is a historic day for India. A historic day, which will be marked in navigation history and globally," Sitharaman said, after flagging off 'Navika Sagar Parikrama', the official name of the circumnavigation effort.
"Our women are going to stand out for doing something which mostly wouldn't even have been thought of," Sitharaman said at the event. Talking to Aaj Tak, the crew's head Vartika Joshi said the Prime Minister asked them to showcase the strengths of the country. During their voyage they will make four stops in different countries.
The first stop would be in Free-Mantle in Australia, New Zealand and then to Falklands before reaching their last stop in Cape Town in South Africa. During the entire stretch of their journey, INSV Tarini would be monitored by a Naval command center apart from the Indian embassies in the countries from where these lady officers would be passing. The rescue zones of the different countries have also been apprised of the mission and they would also keep an eye on them. Senior Navy officers said that the women officers would not be passing through the piracy infested zones and are quite prepared for meeting any eventuality in the sea. The women in boat have established a close bonding with each other which would come in very handy during the long stay in the ship for next eight months. Though women are not allowed onboard warships and submarines, but it is believed that such voyages would help them in future.
Besides Lieutenant Commander Joshi, the other members of the Navika Sagar Parikrama team are Lt Commander Pratibha Jamwal, Lt P Swathi, Lt Vijaya Devi, Lt Payal Gupta and Lt B Aishwarya. Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Lanba said this was the first time an Indian women crew was attempting circumnavigation of the globe. The journey will see officers sail through three oceans - Indian, Pacific and Atlantic.
An interview: NIRMALA SITHARAMAN
Q. What are your remarks on this mission undertaken by women officers?
A. All the members of this mission are women. This is one of the memorable moments for me. It would be marked in golden letters.
Q. What do you have to say about their training and the boat in which they are travelling?
A. These officers have been imparted very good professional training. I am sure that their mission would be successful.
Q. Do you think we are moving towards inducting women in combat roles?
A. In all the three services, women are moving ahead fast. Wherever our help is required, we would provide support.
Indian Navy: Personnel and service matters