Slamming the Navy for not having an inbuilt system to prevent blatant nepotism, the armed forces tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on a Vice-Admiral for inflating his son-in-law’s annual confidential reports while spoiling the ones of his fellow officers in the highly-specialized field of nuclear reactor operations on submarines.
The tribunal ordered Vice-Admiral P K Chatterjee (retd), who was the Navy’s inspector-general of nuclear safety was the senior reviewing officer for those posted on board nuclear-powered submarines INS Chakra and INS Arihant from 2010 to 2012, to pay the Rs 5 lakh as costs to the petitioner Commander S S Luthra.
Luthra, an engineering branch officer, was forced to take premature retirement as a Commander (equivalent to a Lt-Colonel in Army) after being denied promotion to the next rank of Captain (Colonel) despite having an excellent career record and undergoing four months of training in nuclear reactor operations in Russia
“We find that possibly as a consequence of his despondency with his circumstances and the system, Commander Luthra chose to proceed on premature retirement rather than serve after being superseded by others,” said the tribunal, comprising Justice Virender Singh and Lt-General Sanjiv Langer (retd).
“The Navy has lost a highly-specialized officer, on whom a huge cost and time has been invested for super-specialization in the complex domain of nuclear submarines. Such a loss to the Navy and consequently to the nation is disturbing,” it added.
The tribunal also directed the Navy to specify orders and policies to ensure that such a case of nepotism and conflict of interest does not reoccur in the future, while also asking the force to examine these facts during the next promotion board of Vice-Admiral Chatterjee’s son-in-law Captain A V Agashe.
Striking down all assessments of Vice-Admiral Chatterjee in the ACRs of Commander Luthra, the court ordered the Navy to consider the applicant afresh for his promotion to the rank of Captain. “If approved for promotion, the officer will be granted his rank from the original date of his batch, and will be entitled to full pension and terminal benefits in his enhanced rank,” said the tribunal.