KATHMANDU, Aug 12: As a part of his ongoing drive against the anomalies existing within the institution, Nepal Army (NA) chief Purna Chandra Thapa is preparing to take action against nearly three dozen army officers including some brigadier generals after they were found to have submitted forged academic credentials and changed their dates of birth to prolong their stay in office.
High-level sources within the NA said the army chief is preparing to take action against those officials anytime soon after a secret investigation over the last year showed that many officers had submitted fake academic credentials to secure promotions and some others had changed their dates of birth to prolong their terms.
NA spokesman Bigyan Dev Pandey confirmed that the academic certificates and citizenship certificates of all army personnel are under investigation.
Sources familiar with the development said the promotion and the term extension of most of these officers under question have been currently put on hold after an internal investigation found that the credentials suspicious. The NA had earlier formed a probe committee headed by a major general to investigate the credentials of all army officials.
The army chief's latest move comes amid calls within the organization for the past several years to take action against such personnel. While there is the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to take action against those who submit fake and forged credentials to land jobs and secure promotions in the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and civil service, Nepal Army personnel using fake and forged credentials had so far gone unpunished as the army is governed by a separate Army Act and does not fall under the CIAA's purview.
The sources, meanwhile, said the army leadership is positive about allowing such officials a dignified exit if they apply for voluntary retirement. But those who do not quit on their own will face action for corruption and violation of the military code of ethics and even prison sentence depending upon the severity of their crime and their rank.
In his first address to the army rank and file shortly after assuming office, army chief Thapa had promised to launch a crackdown on forged academic credentials for army personnel.
The latest preparations come after eight army personnel below the officer rank were relieved of the service for submitting forged academic documents to secure recruitment and promotion a few months ago. Sources familiar with the development said army chief Thapa is determined to take action against the corrupt army officials.
Earlier, Military Court had dismissed Lieutenant Colonel Jiban Thapa after he was found to have changed the date of birth in his citizenship certificate to prolong his stay in office. The military court not only relieved him of his post but also slapped a fine equivalent to the amount he received from the state coffers for the extra term secured by changing his date of birth.
Army Chief Thapa had also taken action against 250 army officials including the second class officers for their involvement in corruption in the selection process of army personnel within three months since he assumed office on September 9, 2018. They were all relieved of their posts after an investigation showed their involvement in corruption in the recruitment process.