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Selection of top law officer of Indian Army put on hold

A board led by the army chief had, in September 2017, picked brigadier Devender Singh to take over as the judge advocate general from Maj Gen Rakesh Mishra, who retires in March.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 23:33 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times

An armed forces tribunal (AFT) has put on hold the selection of brigadier Devender Singh as the next top law officer of the Indian Army for filing a false affidavit in another case.

A board led by the army chief had, in September 2017, picked Singh to take over as the judge advocate general (JAG) from Maj Gen Rakesh Mishra, who retires in March.

In its interim order, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, the Lucknow AFT last week also restrained Brigadier Singh from discharging duties as the major general of the JAG branch in case he was promoted to the post.

“Keeping in view the fact that the conduct of respondent number 5 (Devender Singh) has not been appreciated on the judicial side and a cost was imposed upon on him on account of filing of a false affidavit and for concealment of facts, we feel prima facie such an officer shall not be entitled to hold the highest post of the JAG Branch, i.e post of the major general,” the bench of air marshal BBP Sinha and justice DP Singh said on January 18.

When reached for reaction, the army spokesperson declined to comment.

Singh’s selection has been challenged by Brig DK Ahluwalia who claims a superior service record. Other than the army chief, the vice chief and seven army commanders also sit on the board that picks the JAG, who has to be a major general.

The JAG advises the army on military law and court martials.

The appointment of a person whose conduct was not appreciated on the judicial side would affect the functioning of the JAG, advocate Virat Anand Singh told the tribunal on behalf of Brig Ahluwalia.

After going through the service records of the two officers, the tribunal concluded that Ahluwalia’s credentials were more suited for the post of the JAG.

Normally, it would not comment on the merits of a selection made by the board, “but from a perusal of comparative merit, it has not been disputed that the career of DK Ahluwalia is several times better”, the tribunal said.

Singh was fined Rs 25,000 by the Chandigarh AFT in 2015 for concealing facts in a case in which an army officer was denied promotion as major general.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 23:33 IST