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Seniority Should Not Be Ignored In Appointment Of Army Commanders: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
3 March 2019 5:35 AM GMT
Seniority Should Not Be Ignored In Appointment Of Army Commanders: SC [Read Judgment]
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“Seniority may be a relevant consideration: seniority brings with it experience of organisation, experience in handling situations and experience in perspective and planning. The post, however, remains a selection post.”

The Supreme Court has observed that though the appointment of an Army Commander is made by selection, the criterion of seniority should not be ignored. The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta observed thus while dismissing an appeal filed by Lieutenant General Ravi Dastane against the order of Armed Forces Tribunal which rejected his challenge to the...

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The Supreme Court has observed that though the appointment of an Army Commander is made by selection, the criterion of seniority should not be ignored.

The bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta observed thus while dismissing an appeal filed by Lieutenant General Ravi Dastane against the order of Armed Forces Tribunal which rejected his challenge to the selection of Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command and Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chachra, GOC-in-C, Northern Command as Army Commanders.

The bench noted that in Union of India v Lt Gen Rajendra Singh Kadyan, it was held that the appointment of Army Commanders is made by selection, holds that an officer does not have a vested right to claim to be promoted only by dint of seniority. Addressing the contention that, this judgement, holds that the appointment of Army Commanders is by selection and not on the basis of seniority, the bench said:

"The principle that seniority alone does not confer a right to appointment to a selection post does not mean that the authority making the appointments must be oblivious to seniority. Placed below the COAS, the post of Army Commander is of crucial significance to the organizational structure of the Army. Seniority may be a relevant consideration: seniority brings with it experience of organisation, experience in handling situations and experience in perspective and planning. The post, however, remains a selection post. In making appointments to such crucial posts which carry enormous functional responsibilities bearing on the defence needs of the Armed Forces and ultimately of the nation, a range of relevant considerations can be borne in mind."

The court further observed: ""An officer has no vested right to claim promotion on the basis of seniority alone. But that does not mean that the authority entitled to make the appointment must ignore seniority. Officers of the Army who attain the rank of Lieutenant General progress through the hierarchical structure after fulfilling rigorous criteria of assessment. The principle that the appointment of an Army Commander is made by selection does not require that the criterion of seniority should be ignored."

The bench, referring to the orders passed by the Central Government, rejected his contention that the appointment of Army Commanders was based exclusively on seniority or in violation of the norms governing appointment to a selection post by promotion. The court also observed that the service profile of seven officers was taken into account by the COAS in making a recommendation.

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