HC quashes Army selection board proceedings led by ex-chief V K Singh

In an embarrassment for the Army, the Delhi High Court has quashed the proceedings of the Special Selection Board of January 7, 2011, held as per a contentious promotional policy for elevation of Army officers to the rank of Lt General.

Once promoted as Lt General an officer goes on to head a corps or one of the seven Army commands or several other key positions, besides getting additional two years of service, till the age of 60.

The court, in its verdict on Monday, held the 2011 selection procedure, led by then Army chief V K Singh, as "illegal" and directed the Army to conduct the entire exercise afresh after constituting a Special Selection Board, which will assess officers on the basis of the "Quantified Policy" of December 31, 2008.

A Bench, led by Justice Pradeep Nandarajog, noted that the promotion board, which was presided over by Gen Singh, had embarked upon the new method of selection even though the Defence Ministry had not approved it and, in fact, asked them to make a few changes in it. According to the original rule, the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) could expunge the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of an officer being rated if it was found to be "grossly inconsistent" with his past record. However, a letter dated March 7, 2011 — when V K Singh was the Army chief — issued by the Military Secretary's branch said this rule was amended to allow the CoAS to "moderate" or "expunge" the ACR partly or fully for the same reason as in the past. This key modification — the power to "moderate" — meant that CoAS could edit the ACRs as he pleased. Both orders held that the changes made could not be revoked or reviewed. Although the force was informed of the amendment through the March 7, 2011 letter, the same letter said that Singh had approved this amendment and introduced it retrospectively since November 2010.

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