The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Wednesday put a stay on promotion of Brigadier T Parshad, Deputy Advocate General (DJAG) of Central Command, to major general till the disposal of the cases challenging his promotion.
It also ordered that the Army had not been restrained from carrying out the fresh selection board, however without taking into account the changed profile of Parshad.Parshad was to take over as Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Army on August 1 as present incumbent Maj Gen PS Rathore retired on Wednesday.
Earlier, there was only one vacancy for the rank of major general in the JAG branch. However, the government on May 4, 2012 created an additional vacancy. And this time, there were four brigadiers who were eligible to be promoted to these two vacancies.
The junior-most officer, Brig T Parshad, was granted relief in his three ACRs on October 16, 2012.
The board was finally held on October 19, 2012. With the improved ACRs, Parshad was selected for the rank of major general. Along with him Major General (at that time Brigadier) N Khanna was considered.
The main contention of Brig PK Sharma, currently DJAG of Northern Command, and Brig Dinkar Adeeb, currently Deputy Advocate General of Eastern Command, is that Parshad was granted relief hurriedly on his statutory complaint for improving ACRs and his profile was added in the selection board after mandatory freezing of inputs, which is five days before the selection board. The court held that prime facie the selection was not appropriate as per military secretary (MS) branch policy.
It was a full house in the court of Justice VK Ahuja and Lt Gen HS Panag (retd) on Wednesday for the hearing, which was to decide as to who would take over as JAG of the Army. DJAG of Western Command Rajinder Kumar was also present in the court. Starting the arguments, the counsel for Adeeb said the data about candidates for the major general was tampered with as improved profile of Parshad was added in violation of the 2005 policy of the military secretary branch. The policy says the data before the board has to be frozen five days before the selection.
He said, "We are a democracy based on rule of law. Here the government says we reject our own policy and asks the petitioners to do whatever they want. How can a government mentality be so brazen?"
Col NK Kohli (retd), appearing for Brig Sharma, said, "This kind of excuse of the government of bypassing rules will not be allowed. The way Parshad's statutory complaint was handled hurriedly it showed it was to favour him."
Capt Sandeep Bansal (retd), appearing for the central government, said, "Even if Parshad's amended profile had not been included, even then he would have been selected."
As Parshad was himself pleading his case, Lt Gen Panag admonished him for not listening to the bench on a point of law. When he was praising his record, Justice Ahuja said they did not decide on emotions. He added, "We cannot convince you. We have to decide as per law…Government orders do not take effect from file notings. The notification needs to be issued." Parshad was pleading that his ACRs were improved on October 12, 2012.
Before that Lt Gen Panag hauled up the MS branch for ambiguity in their policies and added, "It will be hard for you to explain that in some cases complaints are pending for years and in this case (Parshad) you have decided in four months."