AFT flays nepotism in Navy, finds vice-admiral for helping son-in-law in promotion
Vice-admiral PK Chatterjee, now retired, imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh for helping his son-in-law in getting favorable assessments and further promotion to Captain at the cost of othersUpdated: Aug 01, 2017, 09:46 IST
Coming down on nepotism in the Indian Navy, the principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), New Delhi, on Monday, has imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on vice-admiral PK Chatterjee, now retired, for ‘helping’ his son-in-law, Commander AV Agashe, in getting favorable assessments and further promotion to Captain at the cost of others.
The bench quoted the Supreme Court to say, “No man shall be a judge in his own cause and justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seem to be done.”
The matter pertains to 2012-2014 when Chatterjee was the then Inspector General, Nuclear Safety (IGNS) and was the Senior Reviewing Officer (SRO) of both Agashe and the petitioner in the case, Commander SS Luthra.
Luthra, was posted in INS Chakra, and Agashe was posted in INS Arihant. In 2014, Agashe was promoted as Captain while Luthra couldn’t make it. The cost of Rs 5 lakh on Chatterjee is to be paid to be Luthra.
While deciding on Luthra’s petition, the bench comprising Justice Virender Singh and Lt Gen Sanjiv Langer (retd) said that Chatterjee had not only “brought down” Luthra’s “quantitative assessment convincingly, but in the same period, he had steeply upgraded the quantitative assessment” of his son-in-law.
“It is disturbing and surprising that the Indian Navy does not have an inbuilt system to ensure such probable occurrence between relatives are addressed institutionally, so that such a situation, as occurred in this case, does not manifest,” and added that Chatterjee, who was a three-star ranking officer, at no stage had made known to Navy the fact that he was consistently reporting on his son-in-law and when not reporting was fully in the position of influencing his confidential report chain,” the bench added, while also striking down Chatterjee’s assessments.
Luthra would be considered afresh for promotion and even as he was approved for premature retirement he would be granted full pension benefits of the new rank.
The judgment went to add that all officers in the chain of reporting of Agashe were officers, who in themselves, had to take reports, or be reviewed by Chatterjee by virtue of him being the IGNS. In the case of Agashe it was evident that the chain had been kept rather fixed related to his Initiating Officer (IO) and Reviewing Officer (RO), over a period of time and they had elevated his profile, said the order.
The bench said it did not want to interfere in the promotion of Agashe and left it to the jurisdiction of the Navy. The AFT also ordered that the copy of the order be sent to the chief of naval staff for necessary action.