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Army defends its ‘faulty’ promotion policy in SC

A group of officers had approached AFT seeking that policy, which resulted in preferential promotions to officers from select arms, be scrapped.

In a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, the Army has argued that being an employer, it has the right to change promotion policies and that the AFT should not interfere in the Army’s “policy decision.” In a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, the Army has argued that being an employer, it has the right to change promotion policies and that the AFT should not interfere in the Army’s “policy decision.”

Claiming that Pakistan and China have younger commanders-so we need them too- the Army has justified its “discriminatory” 2009 promotion policy which was quashed by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on March 2. The policy had envisaged preferential promotions to officers from select arms.

In a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, the Army has argued that being an employer, it has the right to change promotion policies and that the AFT should not interfere in the Army’s “policy decision.”

The SLP will be heard on Wednesday by the apex court. As reported earlier, while the Army has already scrapped its Selection Boards for the rank of Lt Colonel to Colonel in light of the AFT judgment, further boards are possible only in case the SC brings a stay on the AFT decision.

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While arguing that “the age profile of unit commanders in Pakistan and Chinese Armies are 35 and 40 years respectively,” the SLP presses that the age limit of battalion commanders in the Indian Army too needs to be less. While citing operational requirements, the Army has argued that “it is open to employer to change its policy” and that “court should not interfere in policy decision”.

A group of officers had approached AFT seeking that the policy, which resulted in preferential promotions to officers from select arms, be scrapped. The matter dates back to 2001, when, in the aftermath of Kargil conflict, the government had directed the Chief of Army Staff to refer the recommendations of AV Singh Committee (AVSC) regarding restructuring of the officer cadre of the Army. The report was aimed at reducing the age of battalion commanders. The government released 1,484 vacancies of Colonels by upgrading an equal number of Lt Col vacancies to be distributed in two phases called AVSC I (750 vacancies) in December 2004 and 734 in November 2008 under AVSC II.

While the number of vacancies in AVSC I were allocated between various arms on pro rata basis, corresponding to the total number of officers in the respective service, AVSC II vacancies were distributed on Command Exit Model which resulted in creating maximum vacancies for infantry and artillery — 441 and 186, respectively — other arms were left with minuscule numbers.

First published on: 25-03-2015 at 01:53:44 am
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