The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has stayed the declaration of result of the selection process to the rank of Brigadier in the Judge Advocate general’s (JAG) department of the Army after a woman officer contended that she was unfairly clubbed in the process — called promotion board — with two officers of different seniority.
The petitioner, Colonel Leena Gaurav, is the first woman officer of the Army to have attained the rank of Colonel in a branch of service other than the Army Medical Corps (AMC). If she is approved in the promotion board, she will be the first woman Brigadier in the Army outside the AMC.
Colonel Leena, who belongs to the 1997 batch of JAG officers, has contended in her petition before the AFT that her promotion board was held after clubbing her name with two other Colonels who belong to the 1994 batch. She has also contended that despite the fact that her statutory complaint against an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) is yet to be decided, the Army Headquarters went ahead and held the promotion board.
In its order, the principal bench of the AFT has said, “Having heard learned counsel for the parties at length on the question of interim relief, prima facie, we find that various issues warrant consideration and, therefore, we direct that the result of the selection process conducted be kept in abeyance and shall not be declassified without the leave of this Court.”
The bench has also directed the Army to file a counter-affidavit within three weeks specifically clarifying how the other two Colonels — Colonel A K Panwar and Colonel V S Gaur — are being considered as fresh cases along with Colonel Leena Gaurav and their original batch. The respondents are also required to give a time-frame within which the statutory complaint of Col Leena against ACR is likely to be decided.
While women officers have risen to high ranks in the Army Medical Corps, they have been unable to rise above the rank of Lt Colonel in other branches of the force as these were not open to permanent commission for them.
After the government decided to the offer permanent commissions to women officers in the JAG branch (Army’s legal branch) and the Army Education Corps, Colonel Leena is the first to reach this rank.
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