Physician alleges victimisation in case of misappropriation of medical provides at military hospital

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 11

A woman army doctor has approached the Armed Forces Tribunal alleging that she was being victimised and made a scapegoat in a case relating to gross misappropriation of medical supplies at an army hospital.

She has averred that she was on leave during the period and the said vouchers for the issue of supplies had been signed by a different officer.

The Tribunal’s Principal Bench has restrained the Army from moving the doctor, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Medical Corps, from her present place of posting at Amritsar to Lucknow for further disciplinary proceedings given her inability to undertake long-distance travel in the ongoing pandemic situation due to medical reasons, sources said.

The doctor, now serving at Amritsar, was posted at Base Hospital, Lucknow in August 2014 and was given the responsibility of the officer-in-charge, medical stores.

In June 2016, a pseudonymous complaint was received by the hospital commandant from a supply agency alleging that unauthorised medical stores were issued vide two vouchers by the Armed Forces Medical Stores Depot, Lucknow to the Base Hospital, which were sold off in Delhi by two junior commissioned officers and another person, resulting in the sale of their company being adversely affected.

A one-man inquiry (OMI) was ordered by the Commandant to look into the facts, during which stores worth Rs 1.36 crore were recovered. The matter was brought to the notice of higher headquarters and subsequently, a Staff Court of Inquiry (COI) was ordered. In 2017, another COI was convened in the case.

The COI was re-assembled in January 2019 and the doctor brought out some anomalies in the proceedings. She also averred that mandatory provisions like Army Rule 180 were not complied with during the COI and that the Army did not provide her with a copy of the proceedings.

Consequently, disciplinary action was directed against her on seven charges and the Discipline and Vigilance Branch at Army Headquarters issued orders for her attachment to Army Medical Corps Centre and College, Lucknow for subsequent proceedings like hearing of charge and recording summary of evidence.

Her counsel, Brig DK Ahluwalia (retd), claimed that orders issued last month for recording an additional summary of evidence at Lucknow are “unspecific, arbitrary and unreasonable and also against her medical condition”.

“The Tribunal has directed that the proceedings are now to be held at Chandimandir which should be completed within 7-10 days and she is provided with all medical facilities as required. Other issues concerning the case would be taken up subsequently,” he said.

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