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73 army personnel punished for illegal arms sale

August 06, 2012 19:13 IST

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that 73 army officials of various ranks have been punished with disciplinary action for illegal sale of weapons and issuance of licences to dubious persons.

Appearing for the defence ministry, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising told a bench of justices S S Nijjar and H L Gokhale that the punishment ranged from censure, demotions and witholding of increments.

Both the Centre and the Rajasthan government placed before the bench the status report vis-a-vis the inquiry so far conducted into the allegations.

Rajasthan's Additional Advocate General Manish Singhvi told the bench that the State had investigated 14 case and had so far filed charge sheet in six cases.

The apex court said it would peruse the reports and posted the matter for further hearing to a non-miscellaneous day.

The court was hearing of a PIL seeking direction to the government for taking action against its officers after the NSP weapon scam came to light in 2007 when authorities in Rajasthan's Ganganagar district noticed that several licenses were issued to dubious persons, including terrorists, smugglers and rowdy elements by local authorities without verification.

Subsequent probe by the government revealed a larger racket in which several Army officers, including the ones of major general rank, along with IAS and the Rajasthan civil service officers too were found involved in the sale of NSP arms to dubious elements.

For their personal use, the army personnel are issued weapons, known as non-service pattern weapons, from ordnance depots.

In its report submitted earlier, the state government had said that there were around 284 beneficiaries in the scam and they were being interrogated.

The defence ministry had also told the court that it has decided to review the procedures for issuing NSP weapons to army personnel after finding that they were illegally sold to unscrupulous elements.

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