Army chief Dalbir Singh has accused minister VK Singh of bias and malice in trying to deny him promotion to stall his appointment to the top position when he was commanding the force.
In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, where a former colleague has challenged Gen Dalbir Singh’s elevation, the army chief said in 2012 the then chief of army staff (COAS) victimised him with malicious intent to punish him for “extraneous reasons”. VK Singh was the COAS at the time though Dalbir Singh doesn’t mention him by name in the affidavit submitted on Wednesday.
Dalbir Singh had taken the same plea in the armed forces tribunal (AFT) that had thrown out Lt Gen (retd) Ravi Dastane’s challenge to his promotion.
VK Singh’s two-year term -- March 2010 to May 2012 -- saw its far share of drama. He became the first army chief to take the government to court as a controversy raged over his date of birth. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 and was appointed the minister of state for external affairs.
Singh slapped a discipline and vigilance ban against him which was illegal, said Dalbir Singh. He was suspended by Singh between April and May 2012 for alleged “failure of command and control” after an inquiry was ordered into an army operation in Assam’s Jorhat in December 2011.
Dalbir Singh was then the commanding officer of Dimapur-based 3 Corps intelligence and surveillance unit that carried out the operation. The disciplinary ban was reversed by Singh’s successor Bikram Singh.
Lt Gen (retd) Dastane has challenged Dalbir Singh’s promotion on the basis of the ban. He moved the top court in 2014 after the AFT ruled against him. Dalbir Singh took over as the army chief on July 31, 2014.
“The passing of directions for initiating administrative action against me after about a month of having already finalised the court of inquiry smacks of motivated, biased, arbitrary and malicious intent to punish me which the then COAS executed apparently as planned by him,” the affidavit says, reiterating Dalbir Singh’s stand in AFT.
Referring to the tribunal verdict, Dalbir Singh said it was clear the ban was illegal and premeditated and couldn’t be a ground for challenging his promotion.