Dismissing Ministry of Defence’s plea for overruling a decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) regarding Army’s new promotion policy for Generals, the Supreme Court has ordered the review board of a Major General, who is continuing in service even after retirement, to hold sitting and decide on his promotion within three weeks as per the old policy of 2017.
The bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer passed the order on January 4 on an appeal filed by the MoD against the AFT decision in a case pertaining to Maj Gen V K Singh. “Having regard to the totality of the circumstances, we are of the opinion that the respondent should be considered for the post of Lt. Gen by the Review Promotion Board on the basis of promotion policy that was in existence in October 2017. We would expect the promotion board to hold a sitting and undertake the aforesaid process as soon as possible, preferably within three weeks from today,” the order said.
The bench also ordered that in the meantime the officer shall not perform the duties of Major General. “However, how the intervening period is to be treated, shall be decided on the next date of hearing. We have made these remarks keeping in mind that in case the respondent gets promoted to the rank of Lt Gen he shall get an extension of two years and his age of superannuation shall stand deferred to November 30, 2020.
As reported earlier by The Indian Express, due to non-implementation of its orders by Ministry of Defence (MoD) to hold the promotion board of a Maj Gen for the rank of Lt. Gen, the Principal Bench of the AFT had ordered in November 2018 that Maj Gen V K Singh will continue to remain in service beyond his date of retirement on November 30, 2018, till its orders are complied with.
The bench had said that it was passing these orders as “in the interest of justice it is imperative not to allow an impression to go across that the Armed Forces Tribunal is totally toothless in getting its order implemented”.
In its earlier orders, in October, in the same case, the bench had come down harshly on the Army’s new promotion policy for Generals finding portions of it to be “not only arbitrary and discriminatory but also violative of the principles of natural justice”.
Maj Gen V K Singh had contended that he had been considered for promotion to Lt Gen in a promotion board held in October 2017 but was not recommended for promotion due to certain technically invalid remarks made in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR). These remarks were expunged from his report in April 2018 when he represented before the competent authority.
With this the officer became eligible to be considered afresh for rank of Lt Gen, but, in the meantime a new promotion policy came into effect in December 2017 and that he was considered for promotion under this new policy. He had contended that his review promotion board should have been as per the old policy when he had been first considered.