In a complaint made to defence minister AK Antony, a serving three-star general has accused the army of playing favourites while making a top appointment this month.
In a rare departure from tradition, the army had overlooked Lt Gen GS Bisht and cleared the name of his junior to head its information technology and communications wing — the Corps of Signals, as reported by HT on July 15. Top defence ministry sources said Bisht, currently the commandant of Officers’ Training Academy, Gaya, had complained to Antony that the army had violated the seniority principle and brought in a new policy to favour a junior officer.
Lt Gen Nitin Kohli, who is six months junior to Bisht, was cleared to be the new Signal Officer-in-Chief on July 12, raising eyebrows within the military establishment. The post falls vacant on August 31.
It is learnt Bisht has urged the defence minister to put the appointment on hold until his grievance is addressed. He has sought Antony’s intervention before challenging the appointment in the Armed Forces Tribunal. It is learnt Antony is likely to refer the complaint to the law ministry for opinion. The law ministry has held in the past any violation of the seniority principle will not stand scrutiny in a court of law.
A defence ministry official said, “Usually, we go by army’s recommendations while approving appointments. But we have to step in if it leads to complications.” The army has argued that “suitability” for the job is an important determinant in making such appointments, apart from seniority.
Kohli joined the army in December 1975 and is currently the director-general of manpower planning and personnel services at Army Headquarters.