The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the defence ministry for filing a “delightfully vague” affidavit in the illegal sale of non-service pattern (NSP) weapons by senior army personnel in Rajasthan.
A bench of justice Sudershan B Reddy and justice SS Nijjar was shocked to read the ministry’s affidavit signed by an under-secretary and commented: “Is it below the dignity of your secretaries to file an affidavit before this court and, especially in such serious matters?”
The court’s concern over ministry’s lackadaisical attitude was expressed during the hearing of a four-year-old public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Arvind Sharma. The PIL was filed following an expose by HT on the issue.
Ironically, the ministry claimed before the court that it wasn’t aware of the illegal sales until the PIL was filed.
“We are really shocked that the issue did not draw serious attention from the Centre and the state government… Every time we (court) have to drive you,” the bench said.
Pulling up the ministry for simply asking the army to initiate action, the bench said: “Why can’t the ministry take action? This is not a service matter that you have to proceed under the Army Act. Till now, the only status that we have got about the probe is that ‘someone has asked somebody’ to take action. Ultimately, we feel that a havaldar might be asked to conduct an inquiry.”
The court asked the ministry to file a comprehensive status report before the court on April 29.