For the first time in the history of the Indian army, a sitting director general (DG) has been demoted two ranks down the hierarchy ladder — to the post of brigadier.
Lt Gen SS Thakral, who had taken over as DG of Remount Veterinary Services of the army in 2011, was downgraded after the Delhi high court, on Friday, concluded that staff selection boards showed “undue favour and bias” in promoting him.
The order came on a petition filed by Major General Shrikant Sharma, whose promotion got affected due to the alleged favour shown to Thakral. Sharma alleged Thakral was promoted in 2009 to the rank of Major General after the selection board considered him a “standalone” case, instead of considering him along with other officers of Sharma’s batch.
The clinching point in the case came when Sharma’s lawyer, Jyoti Singh, convinced the court that Thukral’s pipping/investiture ceremony (putting the new rank badge on the shoulder) was done so hastily that senior officers were not even in uniform at the time. The bench, headed by Justice Gita Mittal, questioned the reason for this. The high court was convinced that Thakral and the seniors who favoured him feared a stay order by the court.
“The army, in its defence, has not cited a single instance where pipping ceremony of an officer of the rank of a lieutenant general has been carried out not at the army headquarters but at the residence of a senior officer by superiors attired in civilian clothes.
The pipping ceremony of cadets passing out of the National Defence Academy or Gentlemen Cadets at the IMA by relatives and friends cannot be compared to the pipping of a Lt General,” Justice Mittal said in her 100-page order.
The defence ministry and the army have been asked to constitute a special selection board for appointing somebody to the post of Remount Veterinary Services director general.