Major general Ram Kanwar Hooda, the former general officer commanding (GOC) of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, has been absolved by the armed forces tribunal (AFT) of any role in the Adarsh housing society controversy.
On Friday, the AFT asked the Union government to elevate Hooda, now retired, to the rank of lieutenant general. He was denied the promotion after being charged with buying a flat in Adarsh society, which, according to the defence department, was built on its land.
After the controversy broke, Hooda was subjected to a court of inquiry. The adjutant general’s branch subsequently imposed a discipline and vigilance (DV) ban on him. Any officer banned in such a manner is not considered eligible for promotion.
The tribunal said the respondent could not prove its claim that the defence department owned the land on which Adarsh stood.
“The respondents in their counter affidavit have nowhere stated that the land is owned and possessed by the army,” said the judgment, delivered by principal bench of justice Sunil Hali and air marshal JN Burma.
AFT rejected the charges that Hooda exhibited impropriety in his professional conduct by not disclosing his association with the housing society, citing that there was no controversy involved when he booked the flat, and adding that he had sought permission from his officer, in keeping with the rules.
Reacting to the verdict, Hooda said he felt vindicated. “I was victimised because certain people did not want me promoted as lieutenant general, though I was empanelled for it, and there was a vacancy,” Hooda told HT from New Delhi.
The 104-member Adarsh society was embroiled in controversy in 2010 after the defence department objected to the high-rise, which overlooks important military installations in south Mumbai.
Then Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan resigned from his post, as he had allegedly secured flats for relatives in the society. Several bureaucrats, politicians, and retired defence personnel who are members of the society faced criminal charges. The case is being heard by the Bombay high court.
A judicial commission appointed by the state government, however, later inferred that the Adarsh land is not owned by the ministry of defence.