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Two Indian army brigadiers being tried for corruption
New Delhi | June 27, 2007 5:05:06 PM IST
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Nine months after an Indian Army major general was cashiered for corruption, two brigadiers are being tried on similar charges that also involved the dismissed officer.

The general court martial (GCM) against Brigadiers G. Illangovan and D.S. Grewal who are charged with misappropriation of funds began in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh Monday.

Depending on the extent of crime the court establishes, the duo could be dismissed from service, stripped of rank, denied retirement benefits and jailed for 14 years.

Illangovan and Grewal's involvement in corruption emerged when the army was investigating charges against Gur Iqbal Singh, who was last year dismissed from service, stripped of his major general's rank and jailed for three years for illegally selling defence liquor in the civilian market.

Singh commanded the Bareilly-based 6 Mountain Division when the scam was detected in 2005. At that time, Illangovan commanded the 99 Mountain Brigade at Chaubatia and Grewal commanded the 69 Mountain Brigade in Pithoragarh, both in Uttarakhand. Both brigadiers reported to Singh.

Army investigators found that Illangovan had received two cheques for Rs.60,000 and Rs.70,000 from the division headquarters, apparently to be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Instead, he cashed the cheques and passed on the money to Singh.

Grewal acted in similar fashion, enchasing a cheque of Rs.140,000 and handing over the money to Singh.

Asked why it had taken more than two years for the trial against the two brigadiers to begin, an army officer familiar with the probe said: "These things invariably take time. We have to be absolutely sure we have a cast iron case because verdicts by army courts can be challenged in the high courts and even the Supreme Court.

"Therefore, it is essential for us to get all our facts right," he added Wednesday.

In January, an army court held a three-star general guilty of lapses in the procurement of frozen mutton.

Lt. Gen. S.K. Dahiya of the Army Service Corps (ASC) was indicted for the lapses while serving as a major general with the Udhampur-based Northern Command that guards the country's borders with Pakistan and China. The verdict could lead to his dismissal by the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Four other officers were also held guilty.

Dahiya, who is currently serving in south India, has challenged the verdict in the Delhi High Court.

Last year, Lt. Gen S.K. Sahni, who also belongs to the ASC and has since retired, was held guilty of lapses in the purchase of dry rations, including lentils. Six other officers, including a major general and two brigadiers, were also indicted in this case.

Sahni, who retired in October, has contested the verdict in the Delhi High Court, which has restrained the army from taking action against him till it delivers its verdict.

Twelve senior officers of the army, navy and air force are currently facing COIs. The charges against them range from financial irregularities, to lapses in the sale of liquor, staging fake gun battles, and of conduct unbecoming of an officer. (IANS)

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