Army tribunal defends dismissal of unfit officer, says maintaining physical standards ‘paramount’

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that the maintenance of physical and medical standards is "paramount" in the Army while dismissing the plea by a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI), Hushar Singh, opposing his discharge from service by the Army on medical grounds.

The AFT bench, comprising of judicial member Justice Rajesh Chandra and administrative member, Lt Gen N S Brar (retd) held that it does not find any ground "to interfere'' in the discharge of the petitioner. While performing the duties as signal JCO, Hushar Singh was discharged from service after it was found that "he was incapable of performing the duties competently in an infantry battalion."

Singh had said that he had suffered the injuries during a counter-insurgency operation, The respondents, through their counsel, Sandeep Bansal, however said that the petitioner's claim was false as he had received injuries in a vehicle accident. It was also brought to the notice of the Tribunal that the JCO being on crutches could not have performed the duties in a high altitude area where his unit was being deployed.

The respondents also informed the Tribunal that the petitioner was retained in service and granted extension as long as the unit was in peace station and even under such conditions he was unable to perform the assigned duties that required a frequent change of appointments far before the usual two years.

The respondents also told the Tribunal that retaining the petitioner in service beyond the pensionable service was not in the public interest, as a number of qualified individuals were awaiting promotions that were held up due to non-availability of vacancies.

Passing the orders, the Tribunal held that there can be "no two opinions'' that the requirement of maintaining acceptable physical and medical standards in the Army is paramount and accommodation of those not meeting these standards is an exception driven by welfare considerations and not the rule or right.

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