With a top general moving the court alleging discrimination in promotion, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Friday issued notices to the defence secretary and the army chief, demanding an explanation on why the seniority principle had been violated.
The army had in July overlooked Lt Gen GS Bisht and cleared the name of his junior, Lt Gen Nitin Kohli, to head its information technology and communications wing - the Corps of Signals - first reported by HT on July 15.
Bisht moved the AFT, alleging discrimination.
His lawyer, Rohit Pratap, said, "The defence secretary and the army chief have been given three weeks to explain why a junior officer is being promoted. Top appointments should not be politicised and should be governed by seniority."
Kohli is six months junior to Bisht, who has been denied the top post falling vacant on August 31.
The army has argued that "suitability" for the job is an important determinant in making such appointments, apart from seniority.
The law ministry's view is that any violation of the seniority principle will not stand scrutiny in a court of law. In a rare instance of intervention, the defence ministry had overruled the navy two years back in a similar case and upheld that the seniority principle could not be violated.
Bisht, currently the commandant of Officers' Training Academy, Gaya, had sought defence minister AK Antony's intervention before challenging the appointment in the tribunal.
The Corps of Signals discharges the crucial responsibility of providing communications and electronic warfare support to military commanders to enable them to effectively control their forces.
Kohli is currently the director general of manpower planning and personnel services at the Army Headquarters.