In a first-of-its-kind action, National Defence Academy (NDA) Commandant Lieutenant General Jitendra Singh was on Wednesday removed by the Defence Ministry following the breakout of the ‘cash-for-job’ scam run by his staff officers.
As the stink of corruption reached the doors of the premier tri-service institution, known as the cradle of the Armed Forces, with the arrest of two Colonel-level officers, Defence Ministry A K Antony ordered the transfer of Lt Gen Singh.
“The Defence Minister has ordered the immediate shifting of Lt Gen Jitendra Singh from the NDA,” Defence Ministry spokesperson N Aao said. “This (the transfer) is with the view to ensure a free and fair investigation in the alleged bribery racket in the recruitment of group ‘C’ posts in the NDA,” he said.
Till the investigations are pending, Lt Gen Singh will be attached to Pune-based Southern Command.
The recruitment scam came to the light when the CBI arrested Commandant’s staff officer Colonel Kulbir Singh along with five others for purportedly accepting illegal gratification from candidates during a recruitment drive at NDA in June. The staff officer’s involvement in the scam has sparked serious concern within the Defence Ministry as the NDA is the first institution where the cadets learn their first lessons of military training.
NDA is a tri-service institution and comes under the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS). IDS chairman Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha had also briefed Antony about the probe into the issue. The CBI has accused Col Singh of colluding with his colleagues to appoint people as subordinate staff like cooks, gardeners, lab attendants, library attendant and cadet orderlies in lieu of `3-4 lakh. As per the modus operandi, the accused officers had taken the signatures of the candidates on blank sheets and later filled it with correct answers.
Besides Col Singh, another serving officer Col A K Singh - the physical training officer and presiding officer of the board appointed by NDA for recruitment - has been in the CBI net. Col AK Singh was arrested on July 2 after CBI court in Pune rejected his anticipatory bail and searches were conducted at his residence in Purnia and Saharsa.
During its probe, the CBI claimed to have recovered `1.76 cash and a list of candidates’ names and interview letters and also a list of those who had paid bribe.
The others arrested were NDA employee Ramesh Gaikwad, Bal Kishen Kanojia - who runs a food stall in Pune, his employee Vishnu Sharma and two alleged touts Manoj Sheetak Kar and Dattatre Sheetal Kar. Establishment Officer of NDA Suhas Shankar Waghmare was also arrested following allegations that he had taken money from over 15 candidates in the alleged recruitment scam.