The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has come down heavily on the Army for filing a misleading and false reply before the court and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 in a case of promotion of a brigadier to major general.
“…every attempt was made to mislead us. Therefore, it rocks and shocks the judicial conscience as to how carelessly and casually the Union of India had taken a stand which could encourage their instrumentalities to follow the illegal pursuit; this requires to be curbed at this stage, as the respondents (central government) never tried to amend, correct and even felt apologetic to project their wrong stand,” said the bench comprising Justice Surinder Singh Thakur and Lt Gen DS Sidhu (retd).
Brig NJS Sidhu (retd) had applied for a permanent transfer from artillery to Army Aviation Corps, which was allowed and he joined at the Western Command in 1999. He was senior-most but was not considered for promotion to the rank of major general. He went to the Punjab and Haryana high court, which in 2002 ruled that Brig Sidhu was entitled to be considered for promotion. The Army went to the Supreme Court in appeal, which was dismissed in 2010.
As per the orders, he was considered by a selection board held on January 7, 2011, but still the Army did not approve him for the rank of major general.
The judgment observed that the applicant was the only one who was eligible and was considered by the selection board for promotion but the misleading reply filed before the AFT through Col Devendra Singh, Col Military Secretary (Legal), said the “applicant had failed to make the grade based on the overall profile and comparative batch merit within the batch as evaluated by selection board”.
The judgment observed that the reasons for not giving promotion to Brig Sidhu were neither available in the records, nor decipherable from any other source and the proceedings of the selection board had been mechanically and blindly approved by the Centre.
By setting aside the selection board held on January 7, 2011, the AFT ordered for holding the selection board again for Brig Sidhu, and if he is rejected then “reasons and procedure adopted needs to be clearly spelt out and recorded in the proceedings”.
Brig Sidhu had retired in 2002, so if he is promoted he would be given the rank notionally and would be given the pension of a major general.