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Army NOC violated govt rule

mumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2011 01:19 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Ketaki Ghoge

The Army's No Objection Certificate (NOC), which allowed the state government to hand over the prime plot of land in Cuffe Parade to Adarsh society, violated a 1997 defence rule.

Major General SS Jog, during his cross-examination before the inquiry commission, admitted that the NOC written by him was contrary to the 1997 circular on the alienation of defence land. The circular also applies to land not just owned by but also in possession of the Army. The circular, issued by the Prime Minister's Office, states that no defence land can be transferred without the approval of the Union Cabinet.

In the case of Adarsh society, a letter written by Jog in April 2000 to the then city collector has been treated as an NOC.

Jog and the other military officers examined so far have consistently stated that the land was in possession of the Army, though they have not been able to prove the land ownership. In 2000, when the letter was written, Jog said the Army was in possession of the land. Jog said he wrote the letter at the behest of his superior, the then Major General AR Kumar, who is a member of the controversial housing society.

Jog told the commission that the letter was not an NOC but just a response to the Collector's letter. He submitted separate handwritten minute sheet of the correspondence that he had maintained. A minute sheet keeps note of all correspondence by and to the Army, and is normally kept by junior officers. "While writing the letter, I did not apply my mind. The minute sheet is the culmination of my uneasiness at the point in time," he said.

Admitting that maintaining a minute sheet after dispatching the letter is not standard military procedure. The sheet says: "It is reiterated that no NOC was given to the Collector's office. However, it was mentioned that the land does not belong to the defence."

The minute sheet states that it was ascertained that "Brigadier MM Wanchoo [one of the founding members of the society] presently residing in Pune wanted to develop above land for the kith and kin of servicemen/ex-servicemen/ widows".