A Navy court-martial in Mumbai has denied three years’ seniority to a high-profile officer for causing a junior officer to drown in the Arabian Sea in 2011.
Captain Rahul ‘Rolly’ Parmar had ordered Sub Lieutenant Bipin Kumar to jump into the icy-cold waters from a warship to go sea-swimming. “The commanding officer has been punished for negligence, not ensuring the safety of officers under him and ordering the junior officers to jump into the sea for swimming,” a Navy source said here on Friday.
Parmar was commanding the Navy’s guided missile stealth frigate INS Talwar, when the incident took place off the Gujarat coast on December 29, 2011.
“The Commodore-headed court’s findings came out a week ago and the punishment has been confirmed by the authorities concerned,” the source said, adding that Parmar would suffer “associated penalties” arising out of the ruling.
Soon after Bipin’s death, the Navy relieved Parmar of his command of INS Talwar in January 2012. Following a Board of Inquiry that blamed Parmar for the lapse in his command, the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command initiated the court-martial proceedings against him in June that year.
Parmar ordered Bipin to go sea-swimming as “an initiation custom” and “a survival-at-sea- during-emergencies exercise” for young recruits posted on warships. Apparently, no safety precaution - divers on stand-by or life jackets - had been taken before the youngster was made to jump into the sea.
It was after the new recruit, who had proved strong swimming skills in the one-km-wide Khadakvasla lake as a National Defence Academy cadet, failed to surface even after over 20 minutes, the divers jumped into the water. Despite a search operation by four or five warships, his body could not be recovered. Parmar had previously commanded a Kora-class corvette and held staff appointments in the office of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command.