A serving colonel, close aide of former army chief and Arunachal Pradesh Governor, General JJ Singh, has been promoted out of turn to the rank of brigadier. Worse, to accommodate him, two other colonels who were not empanelled for the next rank have also benefited.
Senior army officials confirmed to HT that Colonel A Majumdar, of the Maratha Light Infantry (MLI), was approved by a selection board last year despite the officer not making it to the final list of 54 officers found fit for promotion. Incidentally, General JJ Singh was also from the MLI.
Colonel Majumdar had sought premature retirement from the army before the board, and shockingly, he was rewarded with a promotion in return, officials said.
In order to accommodate Majumdar, who served as deputy military assistant to General Singh, two officers above him in the merit list also had to be approved and the final list of officers to be promoted had three additional beneficiaries.
The three officers were commissioned in 1980. Had the army gone strictly by the rulebook, none of the three would have made it to the rank of brigadier last November.
Army officials said the defence ministry influenced the results of the promotion board. A senior officer said, “A lot of maneouvring took place to favour certain candidates. Army’s promotion boards are by and large quite impartial but this seems to be one of those rare aberrations.”
The ministry, however, has denied any intervention. “Ministry of Defence does not interfere in the internal matters of the army and has no information regarding any selection or promotion boards of the forces,” ministry sources said.
The immediate fallout of this board would be fewer vacancies for the next batch of colonels, some of whom have been stagnating for almost a decade. “The Military Secretary’s branch (responsible for promotions in the army) should be brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act. Then there will be no hanky-panky,” said a senior army official.