Arguments started on Thursday after about five months at Chandigarh Bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in the case of allegations of spoiling of ACRs of Major General TS Handa by General VK Singh.
Major General Handa’s dossier was also produced in court by the Army for perusal of the judges. During the arguments, Justice NP Gupta commented that the Armed Forces Tribunal had the powers to interfere in the assessment of officers.
Handa, through his lawyer Col NK Kohli (retd), submitted in the court that General VK Singh (at that time he was Lt Gen) was biased in his assessment. He added that due to low assessment he could not be promoted as Lt Gen.
"Writing an ACR is an obligation, a job of senior…He cannot look at his face and give 7 (marks)," said Kohli.
In December 2006, Major General TS Handa (then a Brigadier) was posted as Deputy Military Secretary ( Selection Boards and Complaints ) when General Singh ( then Lt Gen and General Officer Commanding of 2 Corps, Ambala ) had asked the Military Secretary (MS) Branch to change his recorded date of birth from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951. "I was the head of the section where it was to be processed. It was decided against him. That is precisely I was victimised… I was present at the wrong place at the wrong time and I was blown apart."
It was also submitted that Handa was given a censure for posting out a lady officer, who had suicidal tendencies, to a place where other women officers was also posted. Handa added that he was guided by a policy in this regard and no one asked for his reasons and explanation.
Major General Handa is a recipient of Sena Medal and two Chief of Staff Commendation Cards, and had passed out 11th in order of merit from Indian Military Academy (IMA). "As GOC 57 Mountain Division, he carried out the first successful operation by the Army in Loktak lake in Manipur, where eight militants were killed…During his tenure the attrition ration was 21:1 ( number of militants killed to number of soldiers killed), where as it is 5:1 for Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir and north east," said Kohli.
On the other hand, General Singh, through his lawyer Capt Sandeep Bansal (retd), submitted that in the non-statutory complaint Handa did not mention that date of birth issue of Army Chief was responsible for his victimisation. It is important to mention here that it was Gen Singh who rejected non-statutory complaint as he became chief by that time.
During the 2 hours and 15 minutes arguments, Bansal further added that Maj Gen Handa raised the issue of date of birth in statutory complaint for the first time that was addressed to union government. He submitted that if no malafide was alleged towards central government then their decision should be respected. He added that there was no negative recommendation for Handa and said that he was saying himself best without discussing the merits and demerits of other officers. Capt Bansal was to finish his arguments by the next date. General Singh had already replied in the case that he did not meet Handa (regarding change of date of his birth) when the latter was performing the duties of Deputy Military Secretary. He had added that as GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, he reviewed the Confidential Report of Handa from July 2, 2007 to June 30, 2008 and assessed him based entirely on his "demonstrative performance as GOC 57 Mountain Division" and that there was no extraneous consideration, bias, and subjectivity as alleged by him.