A lieutenant general may drag the army to court after being passed over for appointment to a top-level post last week.
In a rare violation of the seniority principle, the force overlooked Lt Gen GS Bisht and named Lt Gen Nitin Kohli - who is six months junior to the former - as the signal officer-in-chief. The post is that of the head of the army's information technology and communications wing - the Corps of Signals - and falls vacant on August 31.
Sources said Bisht would seek defence minister AK Antony's intervention before challenging the appointment in the armed forces tribunal. In a rare instance of intervention, the defence ministry had overruled the navy two years ago in a similar case and upheld the seniority principle.
In response to an HT query, army sources said "suitability" for the job was an important criterion, apart from seniority, in making such appointments. Kohli's appointment has been approved by the government, a source said.
But a retired general said, "It's a bit strange that an officer is found to be fit to be promoted to the three-star rank but unsuitable to hold a particular appointment in that rank."
Bisht is currently the commandant of Officers' Training Academy in Gaya, while Kohli is the director general of manpower planning and personnel services at the army headquarters. He was commissioned into the army in December 1975, six months after Bisht.
The Corps of Signals provides communications and electronic warfare support to military commanders to enable them to command their forces. It also provides connectivity to the navy and air force during joint operations.
An army official said a signal officer-in-chief would handle communications projects worth at least Rs 3,000 crore in a tenure of two to three years.