In the wake of a case filed in the Supreme Court by a serving Army Service Corps (ASC) officer about his posting to operational area, the ongoing army commanders’ conference discussed the issue and tried to pacify ASC officers. In an unusual move, the Defence Ministry issued a statement on the subject, stating that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat as assured that “necessary corrections” will be made.
The case in the Supreme Court followed an Army order issued last year which, according to a section of officials, categorised officers serving in services branch as non-combatants, thus reducing their opportunities for promotions. Prior to that, in its submission before the apex court last year, the Army had called the services cadre — which comprises over 20 per cent of the Army — “non-operational”. But these officers continue to be posted to all operational areas and units, including Rashtriya Rifles battalions.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said, “During the Army Commanders Conference the issue of services being non-combatants was discussed. Some personnel from Army Service Corps (ASC) have expressed apprehensions that since they are non-combatants they should not be considered for posting to field areas.”
The statement then reiterated the Army’s submission in the Supreme Court, which acknowledged that “a number of Officers, JCOs and Other Ranks from Combat Support Arms and logistic units are posted on tenure basis in infantry (Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorist units)” to “boost strength essential in Line of Control, Low Intensity Conflict, Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist environment”. But it also said that “at no stage has the Army referred to Services Units being non-combatant units”.
“Some aberrations, if these are being perceived by any particular arm or service are being addressed during the Conference,” the statement added, “The anguish amongst some personnel on discrimination in their status, needs to be put to rest and the COAS has assured that necessary corrections, where needed will be addressed.”