24 Aug 2021 12:54 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday relegated to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) the individual male and female naval officers challenging the rejection of their claim for the grant of Permanent Commission, or in the alternative, seeking pensionary benefits in terms of the directions of this court in Annie Nagaraja's case."Since the petitioners have already have an efficacious remedy before the AFT,...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday relegated to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) the individual male and female naval officers challenging the rejection of their claim for the grant of Permanent Commission, or in the alternative, seeking pensionary benefits in terms of the directions of this court in Annie Nagaraja's case.
"Since the petitioners have already have an efficacious remedy before the AFT, we relegate them to the pursuit of proceedings before the Tribunal", directed the bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and M. R. Shah.
1. If the vacancies are more than the number of officers under consideration for the grant of PC, inter se merit fades into the background and only suitability is to adjudged; and
2. Originally, the grant of PC in the navy was governed by Navy Order (Special) 05/05 which was modified on October 28, 2009 to provide for the Initiating Officer to record suitability for PC, setting out the manner in which the recommendation was to be endorsed by the IO. The eligibility for the grant of PC in their cadre/department to be from 2009, the petitioners (having appointed in 2003, 2004 and 2005) suffered from the same vice of discrimination as was dealt with by the Supreme Court in Lt. Col. Nitisha's case in context of women officers, that either their PC recommendation was not filled in by their Initiating Officer or if filled in, the same was done casually.
"In the normal course, the Initiating Officer would give recommendation for PC only to those who were eligible, unlike those us appointed in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The eligibility for grant of PC came only in 2009. None of the petitioners fell under this category of 2009 onwards. But all officers appointed 2003 onwards were adjudged as a block, which also included those of 2009 and onwards. What the consequence of one having no recommendation or a casually endorsed recommendation was that when inter se merit is adjudged, if one has a recommendation and another does not, it weighs against the latter. But we have completed 18 years' service! And then in 2015, further instructions were given for the creation of the merit list based on a bell-curve which is deleterious and prejudicial towards us", explained Mr. Singh.
"It is not that we don't understand your grievance, not for a moment are we saying that your grievances are not weighty. But what is worrying us is this recourse to Article 32. Both in Babita Puniya's case (grant of PC to women in the army) and in Annie Nagaraja, the proceedings before us arose by civil appeals from the Delhi High Court. Lt. Col. Nitisha was also connected with the interpretation of our earlier order, where we looked into the issue that since women were not being considered for PC earlier, their ACRs were not written with that mindset. Our judgment deals with the whole gamut of law. But now should the Court open itself to 32 petitions at this stage when there is a remedy before the AFT?", observed Justice Chandrachud.