Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel in J-K face court martial for ‘embezzling’ Rs 58 lakh

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Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10

Two Army officers are facing a summary general court martial (SGCM) for alleged financial misappropriation of over Rs 58 lakh while posted with an Electronics and Mechanical Engineers’ (EME) battalion in the northern sector.

One of the accused officers, a Colonel, was the battalion’s commanding officer while the other, a Lieutenant Colonel, was commanding one of the battalion’s field workshop.

A joint trial, presided by Brig RD Sharma, Commander of an Armoured Brigade, has been convened, which is scheduled to commence at Akhnoor on August 11, according to sources.

The irregularities came to light during the handing over — taking over process on change of command. The matter was reported to higher authorities, following which a court of inquiry (COI) was ordered in 2017 to investigate the lapses. Both officers were posted out within a few days of each other, sources said. They were later attached back, along with the unit’s Subedar Major, for disciplinary action.

An EME battalion receives technical grants for maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment, including IT hardware and paraphernalia. During the COI, it was brought out that bookings for equipment and work amounting to about Rs 40 lakh had been made by the Colonel against this grant while similar books amounting to Rs 17 lakh had been made by the Lieutenant Colonel. The equipment was not received in the battalion.

In addition, the Lieutenant Colonel has also been charged with siphoning Rs 1.86 lakh from the condiment allowance meant for troops, while the Colonel has been charged for failure of command and control for inability on his part to detect and prevent this.

Further, the officers were also involved in surreptitiously felling about 200 trees in unit area and selling them. They are being tried under Sections 52(b) and Sector 63 of the Army Act for intent to defraud and acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

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