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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Vice Admiral Verma, overlooked for Navy chief post, earned 2 adverse reports

Two defence ministers expressed reservations about Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, the current Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command who was recently overlooked for the post of the Chief of Navy Staff.

india Updated: May 30, 2019 10:25 IST
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma(File photo)
         

Two defence ministers expressed reservations about Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, the current Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command who was recently overlooked for the post of the Chief of Navy Staff, a senior government official who did not want to be named said.

Admiral Karambir Singh will be taking over as the next Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) on Thursday instead of Vice Admiral Verma who is the senior most officer in the Indian Navy. Vice Admiral Verma has challenged the decision of the government and has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal. Vice Admiral Bimal Verma is the brother of Admiral Nirmal Verma who was Chief of Navy Staff between 2009 and 2012.

The tribunal on Wednesday allowed Admiral Karambir Singh to take over as the next Chief of Navy Staff. The appointment of Admiral Singh is, however, subject to the outcome of Admiral Verma’s petition. The AFT will hear the case again on July 17.

Admiral Verma did not respond to text messages and phone calls. The official said both the defence ministers put their reservations on the record. HT has not seen a copy of these. “ The Government did not produce the selection files before the court today as per earlier directions. We are not aware of any adverse records. We will reply to these if these are produced in court,” Ankur Chibber, Vice Admiral Verma’s counsel, said when contacted.

AK Antony, the defence minister during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, was the first to put on record his apprehensions about Admiral Verma. “Antony raised questions about the manner in which the officer was promoted,” a second senior officer aware of the details added.

“ I do not comment about the defence ministry,” Antony said when contacted.

The late Manohar Parrikar, who took over as defence minister when the Modi-led NDA government came to power, too recorded his reservations on file about the officer. “As defence minister, Manohar Parrikar recorded his reservations. He again raised an issue about the promotion process,” the second senior official said.

In addition, the outgoing Chief of Naval Staff, Sunil Lanba, recommended Admiral Karambir Singh instead of Admiral Verma for the post of Navy Chief. “In as many as three successive reports to the government in the recent past, Admiral Karanbir Singh was recommended by the Chief of Navy Staff,” the second senior official said.

Although the seniority principle — appointing the senior-most officer as the next Chief is generally maintained — there have been instances when this has been breached. Recently, General Praveen Bakshi, the then Eastern Army Commander and the senior most officer, was overlooked for the post of Chief of Army Staff. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the Army Chief instead.

First Published: May 30, 2019 07:26 IST

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