Defence ministry tells uniformed services to conduct detailed analysis of internal grievances, suggest systemic reforms

  • In the wake of a huge number of complaints, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) wants to have a consistent, accountable and a more extensive mechanisms for swift resolution in all three uniformed services and various other departments, which directly comes under administrative control of the ministry

  • The ministry advised that sub judice cases or any matter concerning judgment given by any court, personal and family disputes and anything that impacts upon territorial integrity of the country or friendly relations with other countries should not be treated as grievances

  • Also, the grievances of government employees concerning their service matters including disciplinary proceedings will only be considered if the officer has exhausted the prescribed channels of redressal

In the wake of a huge number of complaints, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) wants to have a consistent, accountable and a more extensive mechanisms for swift resolution in all three uniformed services and various other departments, which directly comes under administrative control of the ministry. The MoD order and notes dated 30 December, 2019, reviewed by Firstpost, reveals that between 1 April to 31 July, 2019, a total 4,256 complaints were received by the ministry.

 Defence ministry tells uniformed services to conduct detailed analysis of internal grievances, suggest systemic reforms

Rajnath Singh at an event in Bokaro. ANI

It was also the same period when Firstpost published a series of investigative reports exposing alleged irregularities in construction of Air Force's Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS). Documents revealed that the then defence secretary Sanjay Mitra ordered a detailed analysis in all the complaints including the IACCS project to identify systemic reforms needed to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism and to address the root cause.

After Mitra's direction, 800 complaints were analysed including the ones against Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) which is handling the confidential IACCS project. The defence public sector undertaking is in the dock for allegedly violating rules in selection of project consultant and subsequently awarding contracts to foreign vendors. The BEL has awarded a sub-system contract without floating global tender to a German company Mueller Safe GmbH, which had produced only 75 pieces of valves used for such installation.

Another company Pro Hub Hebetechnik GmbH was also selected by BEL for a contract despite submitting technical proposal after closing time of bid. The Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of BEL had recommended blacklisting of design consultant of IACCS and action against 8 BEL officers for allegedly favoring domestic and foreign companies at the cost of tax-payers and national security.

As per then defence secretary Mitra's direction, the 800 complaints picked for analysis were categorised in four broad areas: Corruption, land matters, recruitment and service matters. On 30 December, 2019, the MoD after analysis of the complaints suggested a systemic reform in handling the complaints. An action taken report has to be submitted by all three uniformed services and other departments to the MoD by 15 January, 2020. The note reviewed by Firstpost read: “All wing heads must carry out a detailed analysis of grievances pertaining to their wings and suggest systemic reforms. Also, the wing heads should hold fortnightly meetings with their division heads to monitor the disposal of grievances.”

In the corruption category, the MoD had analysed 150 complaints. Of these, 23 complaints were related to fraud in Air Force/BEL, fraud in Military Engineer Services (MES) which is responsible for providing infrastructure to the armed forces, ordinance depot, army public schools, sainik schools, canteens, fraud in Border Road Organization (BRO), corruption in recruitment process in Military Engineer Services, National Cadet Corps, military hospitals and Sena Bhawan.

Other corruption complaints related to cantonment boards, irregularities in transfer postings, disproportionate assets cases and fake job rackets. In the recruitment category, 200 complaints were analysed included corruption in recruitment process, request for relaxation in norms for defence jobs, delay in getting joining/result, matter related to medical examination during recruitment and other complaints related to procedural issues.

In the service matters category, 250 complaints were analysed, including complaints on promotion issues, complaints against dismissal, medical board, promotion and request for reinstatement in service. 17 complaints of harassment were analysed. In 200 complaints of land matters analyzed by MoD, maximum numbers were related to encroachment and unauthorised construction on defence land by public and corruption by Cantonment Board and officials. There were also complaints related to civic amenities and hygiene in the cantonment areas where army officers and their families resides.

The MoD has suggested that in order to avoid encroachment, all land records of cantonment must be digitised. “Systemic changes in form of digitization of Cantt records, land matters must be initiated as soon as possible and the same must be uploaded on the net. All results relating to recruitment/admission to be made available online as in case of army public school/ Sainik School/other organization recruiting people. Maximum information related to recruitment to be uploaded online. Proper timeline/ sequence of events relating to recruitment, exams to be displayed on the website as far as possible. Prompt reply to be given if relaxation in respect of procedures, policy is sought. The feasibility of having the exams online could be examined wherever possible,” the MoD note said.

The ministry, while directing the systemic reforms, however, advised that sub judice cases or any matter concerning judgment given by any court, personal and family disputes and anything that impacts upon territorial integrity of the country or friendly relations with other countries should not be treated as grievances. Also, the grievances of government employees concerning their service matters including disciplinary proceedings will only be considered if the officer has exhausted the prescribed channels of redressal.

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Updated Date: Jan 12, 2020 09:41:34 IST