Ex-Lt Gen, Army lock horns in land dispute case
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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 21:51
Mumbai: An all-out war on Wednesday started between former Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj and the force with the retired officer objecting to him being "singled out" in a land dispute case and the Army dubbing his decision of an out-of-court settlement as "grossly disadvantageous".

Thamburaj sought to clear his name of the controversy saying it was a collective decision by number of officers and "therefore, it surprises me why I have been singled out for the allegations".

Expressing great "disappointment, hurt and pain", he, however, said he will extend full cooperation to the CBI and also maintained that he had no connection or association, whatsoever, with the people named by the investigating agency.

The Army's Southern Command, immediately after the General came out with his version, issued a statement saying "Bungalow No 8-A, Lothian Road is located on 0.96 Acres of prime defence land adjacent to MG Road in Pune cantonment and was reserved for married officers' accommodation.

"The original lessee had transferred the property to Kalpataru Builders who wanted to develop it for commercial use, violating the terms of lease, leading to series of litigation. The Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court had passed judgements favourable to the Army.

"However, instead of implementing court orders, an out of court settlement grossly disadvantageous to Army was arrived at. Army, pursuant to its policy of zero tolerance to corruption, carried out an inquiry and handed over these cases to CBI for investigation and prosecution of the guilty," the release said.

The CBI, which carried out searches at the residence of the former Vice Chief, is scrutinising documents and computers seized. The searches were conducted yesterday after CBI registered a case against Lt Gen Thamburaj, Pune-based builder Kalpataru and former Defence Estate Officer S R Nayyar on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misconduct in the out of court land dispute settlement to benefit a private builder to the tune of Rs 46 crore.

The CBI was preparing questions for the retired Vice Chief and other accused in the case on the basis of its probe and the enquiry conducted by the Army, a copy of which along with the relevant documents had been handed over to the probe agency, official sources said.

They also said the Army enquiry was silent about the possible favours that Lt Gen Thamburaj and Nayyar had received from the builder and sleuths were trying to ascertain that. CBI officials investigating the case said all the accused seem to have covered their tracks well after the Army enquiry.

"After 40 years of meritorious service, such allegations are greatly disappointing and I feel hurt and pained with the allegations," Thamburaj said.

According to the CBI, Thamburaj, who was posted as General-Officer-in-Command of Southern Command, and Nayyar had allegedly shown undue favour to the builder for a property measuring 0.96 acres in Defence Land at Pune Cantonment.

The two officers ignored rules and policies, violated the terms of lease entered into by the Ministry of Defence and Kalpataru and caused the private company pecuniary gains of about Rs 46 crore, it said.

However, Thamburaj said an Army commander cannot "micro manage" affairs and was largely dependent on his advisors.

"In this case no land was transferred to any builder during my tenure. The building in question was constructed before I took charge as the Army commander," he said, adding, that he had raised some objections following which the builder threatened to take the Army to court.

"My advisers convinced me that our case in the court was weak and it would be wiser to go in for an out of the court and that too after Principal Director of Defence estates, an authority on such matters, had concurred with the proposal," Thamburaj said.


First Published: Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 21:51

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