The Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMO) has replied under the Right To Information (RTI) Act that there is no record of additional copies being made of the confidential documents submitted by Gen VP Malik (retd) in the Delhi high court in 2003 in the Brig Surinder Singh dismissal case.
The RTI reply also reveals that these documents had been destroyed by the DGMO on September 30, 2002, by a board of officers, while former Chief of Army Staff Gen Malik had used them to support his argument on February 11, 2003.
“It shows that Gen Malik had been in unauthorised possession of these confidential documents,” said Brig Surinder Singh (retd). One of the documents is Gen Malik’s tour programme to the Northern Command from August 27-29, 1998, when he had met Brig Singh. The second pertains to tour notes and directions.
This RTI information has been submitted in the case being heard by the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). “It clearly shows that even the government is not supporting the legal possession of these documents with Gen Malik,” said MP Goswami, counsel for Brig Singh. The latter had applied for this information on March 18, 2011. It was provided on January 2 this year.
Earlier, Brig Singh had submitted RTI information supplied by the army headquarters, dated February 14, 2011, stating that Gen Malik had not taken permission before publishing details about troop strength, movement and deployment and weapons held by them during the 1999 Kargil war in his book ‘Kargil From Surprise to Victory’.
The ministry of defence had stated in an RTI reply dated January 31, 2011, that neither had Gen Malik taken permission before publishing his book nor had the MOD taken cognisance of the matter afterwards.
The Kargil Review Committee had deleted the name of Tashi Namgyal, an informer who reported about Pakistani intrusions, but Gen Malik’s book mentioned his name on page 105 of his book.
Brig Singh was the brigade commander for Kargil during the war. He was dismissed from the army on May 29, 2001, on the charges of leak of documents to unauthorised persons and vacating of the Bajrang post by 4 Jat in early 1999.
In 2002, he moved the Delhi high court, seeking quashing the dismissal order and his reinstatement with all consequential benefits. He also prayed for an independent inquiry to fix responsibility and the role of the Army Commander and the Core Commander.
Besides Gen Malik, Lt Gen Kishan Pal, then Corps Commander of 15 Corps, Maj Gen VS Budhwar, then GOC 3 Infantry Division, and Lt Gen HM Khanna, then Army Commander of Northern Command, were also respondents in the case.
The case was transferred to the principal bench of the AFT in early 2010, and came to the Chandigarh bench in September 2010.
What General said in HC in 2003 that during his tenure as army chief, he toured Jammu, Naushera, Surankot, Srinagar, Kargil, Drass, Wujur, Khanabal, Kupwara, Pherkian Gali and Balbir posts from August 27 to 29, 1998. He visited Kargil and Drass on August 29.
During his visit, Brig Surinder Singh gave him a briefing in the Ops Room of the brigade. Gen Malik claimed that Brig Singh “never brought out that there was a possible or imminent threat of large-scale infiltration by the enemy from any particular area/route”.
He also submitted that Brig Singh failed in his duties and responsibilities “to protect the territory along the LoC, which was his primary responsibility”. He added that as an afterthought, Brig Singh “wanted to cover up his lapses by shifting the blame on him and the government” by claiming that he had informed about the possible intrusion by the enemy in the Kargil sector.
Gen Malik added that he had received “no written communication whatsoever” wherein Brig Singh had shown his apprehension of a possible infiltration by the enemy in his brigade sector.