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Govt sets ball rolling to appoint new Chief of Defence Staff, retired officers now eligible

New rules allow serving and retired officers of 3-star rank & above to be eligible for appointment to top post. Age limit set at 62.

CDS Bipin Rawat
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat | File Photo | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

New Delhi: The ball has been set rolling for the appointment of a new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), with the government bringing in formal changes to the rules and regulations allowing even retired three-star officers to be eligible for appointment to the top post — which has lain vacant since the death of General Bipin Rawat in December last year.

Sources in the defence and security establishment indicated to ThePrint that if a retired officer is to be the new CDS, the main contenders will be two Army officers who looked after critical sectors involving China.

They also said that if a serving officer is brought in, he may not necessarily be from the Army. 

Under the new rules notified through a gazette notification dated 6 June and published Tuesday, the three service chiefs who retired most recently will not be eligible to be appointed CDS because the cut-off age has been set at 62.

All service chiefs serve a fixed tenure of three years or until they reach the age of 62.

However, it opens up the field for former commander-in-chief rank officers, who retire at the age of 60.

Sources said that while the gazette notification refers to three-star officers, it means commander-in-chief-level officers and not anyone below this. 

There are many three-star officers who don’t reach a position on the scale of a commander-in-chief. 

Opening up options

Last month, ThePrint was the first to report that a top decision-making body within the government had approved changes in certain rules that allow the possibility of bringing back a retired officer to the post of CDS.

It was also reported on 9 December last year that the government was looking at the possibility of appointing retired officers to the post of CDS, besides serving four star and three star officers.

Under the gazette notification, modifications have been made to the Army, Air Force and Navy Acts to accommodate the changes.

The notification for the Army says, “The central government, may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, appoint as Chief of Defence Staff, an officer who is serving as Lieutenant General or General or an officer who has retired in the rank of Lieutenant General or General but has not attained the age of sixty-two years on the date of his appointment”.

Similar changes were also made to the Air Force and Navy Acts, with the rank structures being different. 

As reported earlier, the changes to the rules don’t necessarily mean that the next CDS will be a retired officer, but merely open up more options for the government. 

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)


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