It has emerged that there may be no substance to the claims made by Lt Gen Ravi Dastane in his complaint to the defence ministry that he was not appointed as army commander on June 1 despite being eligible.
At a time when Dastane’s lawyer has threatened to move court, army sources said he was never empanelled for the top post.
Dastane, currently the deputy chief of Integrated Defence Staff, had complained in August that two positions of army commanders had fallen vacant on May 31 but he was overlooked.
While the government had kept the post of Eastern Army commander vacant for two weeks before Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag took charge on June 15, Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachhra was appointed Western Command chief on June 1.
Proposals for appointing army commanders were sent to the ministry in March 2012. A source said, “Only Suhag and Chachhra were empanelled and subsequently cleared as army commanders by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet in May. Dastane has no case at all.”
Suhag’s appointment as Eastern Army commander was delayed as he was under a provisional discipline-vigilance ban after controversial former chief Gen VK Singh issued him a show-cause notice for alleged lapses. It was seen as a move by VK Singh to scuttle Suhag’s chances of not just taking over as Eastern Army commander but also as chief in 2014.
But Gen Bikram Singh, who replaced VK Singh on May 31, lifted the ban as nothing was found against Suhag.
In what is being criticised as an attempt to build pressure on the ministry, Dastane’s lawyer last week said his client would move the Armed Forces Tribunal if his plea were to be rejected.
Dastane has had his own brush with controversies. On June 6, he violated flight safety norms by entering the cockpit of a Go Air flight from Leh to Jammu. Also, it was under his watch as commander of Leh-based 14 Corps that a bloody clash broke out between officers and jawans of an artillery unit on May 10.