SC stays AFT's decision to quash Army's 2009 promotion policy

 The Supreme Court today stayed a recent decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) to quash the Army's promotion policy for the rank of Colonel from January 2009.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today stayed a recent decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) to quash the Army's promotion policy for the rank of Colonel from January 2009.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices T S Thakur, R Banumathi and Amitava Roy stayed the operation of a March 2 decision of the AFT after the Defence Ministry mentioned its appeal before it.

The AFT had earlier allowed the plea of certain officers including Lt Col P K Choudhary, that the 2009 promotion policy has resulted in preferential promotions to officers of select branches of the Army and hence should be scrapped.

The tribunal had found the policy to be violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.

The army officers had claimed that the policy, also known as 'command exit promotion policy', had adversely affected them and it was "arbitrary" and highly skewed in favour of Infantry and Artillery, as compared to other branches of the Army.

In its appeal, the Centre justified the promotion policy saying that the Army, being the employer, has a right to have its promotion policies and that the AFT should not have interfered in the "policy decision".

It further said that the age profile of unit commanders in Pakistan and Chinese armies was 35 and 40 years respectively and hence the age limit of battalion commanders in the Indian Army also needed to be less.

The central government, in 2001, had asked the Chief of Army Staff to refer the recommendations of AV Singh Committee (AVSC) on restructuring of the officer cadre of the Army. The AVSC report was aimed at reducing the age of battalion commanders. 

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