New Delhi: Vice Admiral Bimal Verma on Tuesday filed a fresh petition in the Armed Forces Tribunal seeking quashing of the government orders for designating Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as next Navy Chief and the last week rejection of his statutory complaint by the Defence Ministry.
In his plea, Vice Admiral Verma has contended that the tribunal should call for the service records of both — him and Vice Admiral KB Singh — and see if any “extraneous or irrelevant considerations” were placed before the competent authority to reject his case while the Navy Chief appointment was being made. The tribunal is expected to hear the plea on Wednesday.
“Quash the Defence Ministry order by which the Vice Admiral’s statutory complaint has been quashed on grounds that are extraneous, vague and unsubstantiated…quash the March 23 order by which Vice Admiral Karambir Singh has been appointed Chief of Naval Staff in place of the applicant (Vice Admiral Verma),” the fresh plea filed by Vice Admiral Verma said.
After the Defence Ministry rejected Verma’s statutory complaint, his lawyer Ankur Chhibber had told ANI that “as per law we would be withdrawing the present petition with liberty to challenge the order issued by the government and request the tribunal to hear the matter before the new chief takes over.”
The first plea was filed by Verma on April 10.
While rejecting his plea, Defence Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Navy) Richa Mishra had clarified that though seniority is an important criterion while appointing services chiefs but it is not the “sole” criterion and has been dispersed within the past too while appointing Navy chiefs.
“The Central government after careful examination of the matter is of the opinion that this statutory petition dated 10th April 2019 from Vice Admiral Bimal Kumar Verma regarding his non-selection as the chief of naval staff is devoid of merit and be rejected,” the Defence Ministry had said while rejecting the officer’s plea.
The Defence Ministry also made it clear that being the seniormost officer, Vice Admiral Verma was also considered for the appointment to the post of Navy Chief but was “found unsuitable to the tenant the appointment of the Chief of Naval Staff.”
“Upon examination, the Central government is satisfied that the parameters for selection as evident from consistent practice were applied uniformly to all the officers in the zone of consideration and based on the assessment, Vice Admiral Bimal Kumar Verma being the senior most eligible officer was considered and found unsuitable to tenant the appointment of Chief of naval staff.”
“The Central government is also satisfied that no unsubstantiated frivolous, extraneous or irrelevant consideration has had a bearing on this said selection,” Richa Mishra had said in her order rejecting the officer’s plea.
After the government overlooked him in appointing Navy Chief and designated Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Navy chief, Verma who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, approached the Armed Forces Tribunal.
The government last month named Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as next chief of the naval staff, succeeding Admiral Sunil Lanba who retires on May 31.
While appointing the Army Chief in 2016, the Central government did not follow the seniority criteria. In the order, Defence Ministry also mentioned that the officer was not considered for being awarded the Param Vishisht Sewa Medal and was also not given the command of either the Eastern or the Western commands.
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Deep selection is an accepted practice in the United States. Gen Colin Powell became Chairman J C S in 1989, at the age of 52. In India, military supersessions have been rare. Lt Gen S K Sinha was overlooked by Mrs Gandhi – always a trail blazer in these things – and lionised all his life thereafter by the BJP. Then came Gen Rawat. Fortunately, the two very competent officers he overtook served till retirement. In the army – there may be a similar convention in the navy and the air force – once an officer is appointed Army Commander, his ACR is no longer written. It is assumed that all the outstanding officers who have reached that level – after intense sieving processes – are fit to be Chief, subject to age, residual service, etc. The senior most officer is invariably promoted. No politicking, no heartburn. If deep selection becomes the norm in India, given our cultural milieu, expect many ambitious Caesars to plan every step of their career. Not necessarily as per the Chetwood creed.
… Chetwode creed .
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