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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 15:23 GMT
Army denies racism claim
Gurkha troops in Kosovo
Gurkha troops in action in Kosovo
A former Gurkha, who is claiming racial discrimination against the British Army over his promotion, was a "marginal candidate" to advance to captain, a tribunal has heard.

Former Gurkha Lieutenant Navinkumar Gauchan, 40, of Colchester, Essex, claims that the "up or out" army policy, to discharge servicemen who did not progress, was racially discriminating because it only applied to Nepalese troops.

The Army denies the allegations and the Ministry of Defence is contesting the case at an employment tribunal hearing in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

On Wednesday the hearing was told the former Lieutenant behaved "selfishly" because he was unable to come to terms with his failure to gain promotion.

Cousin benefited

Colonel Russell Beattie, who was Mr Gauchan's commanding officer, told the tribunal he "totally denied" that his actions were in any way racist or discriminatory.

"Whilst never doubting his commitment and personal ambition I had come to the reluctant conclusion that he was a very marginal candidate for further promotion," said Col Beattie.

"A particular irony of the case is that the officer who could be seen to have benefited from Lt Gauchan's departure was none other than his cousin, Lt Khimprasad Gauchan.

"It is difficult to see how this would have happened if (his) assertion of racial and or tribal discrimination had any substance to it," he said.

Gurkha parade
Gurkha troops are known for their distinctive uniform
He added that Mr Gauchan could not accept his failure to progress.

"Lt Gauchan was hugely disappointed not to be promoted, not least of all because I believe he felt it was a foregone conclusion that he would be, and from that moment on he never really came to terms with it," said Col Beattie.

"His response was selfish. I am not saying he was a selfish person but his response to the situation was selfish. He wanted something that would suit him."

Mr Gauchan, who served with the Queen's Own Gurkha Transport Regiment for 21 years, claims he was forced to leave after failing to win promotion.

'Promotion block'

He claims the "up or out" policy denied Gurkhas the same rights given to British-born soldiers.

The hearing has heard that the army applied the policy to make way for new Gurkha recruits.

Col Beattie told the hearing he could not allow officers who failed to reach the next rank to stay on because it would create a "promotion block".

"I could have acquiesced to Mr Gauchan's request but it would have been at the expense of other (Gurkhas)," he said.

The tribunal continues.

Click here to go to Essex
See also:

14 Jan 02 | England
Gurkha claims MoD was racist
27 Jan 00 | South Asia
Recruiting for the Gurkha regiment
28 Oct 99 | Europe
Benefit boost for Gurkha widows
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