Another tussle between Army Chief, Defence Ministry



Another tussle between Army Chief, Defence Ministry New Delhi: Differences between the Defence Ministry and Army Chief General V K Singh appeared to be continuing with the ministry blocking his proposal for appointment of a top military official to the post of Director General of Assam Rifles.

Gen Singh, who had lost a bitter battle against the ministry in the Supreme Court on his age issue recently, had recommended the name of Lt Gen A K Choudhary, who is the Director General Military Operations (DGMO), for the post in a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

But the MHA, which exercises control over the Assam Rifles, was asked not to consider the proposal by the Defence Ministry which raised objections as it did not have the approval of the Defence Secretary or any other competent authority, sources said.

The Defence Ministry has now asked the Army to propose a fresh panel of officers for the appointment but the latter has not yet responded, they said.

Earlier, the Army had nominated a panel of three officers including Lt Gen Choudhary and Adjutant General Lt Gen J P Nehra.

It is unusual that Army is approaching the MHA directly bypassing the Defence Ministry as normally all such proposals are approved by it before they are forwarded to other Ministries, they said.

They said the appointment of previous incumbent Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy in 2010 had the sanction of the Defence Ministry.

The post of DG, Assam Rifles has been lying vacant since February 22 after the Army kept pressing the MHA to repatriate Lt Gen Roy back to his parent service.

Sources said it is doubtful whether the recall of Lt Gen Roy had the sanction of the Defence Ministry as the communication sent to him by the MHA in this regard referred to a letter by the Army only.

The Army had sought Roy's recall from the MHA accusing him of involvement in financial misappropriation, a charge which could not be proved in an inquiry.

Relations between the Army and the Defence Ministry were adversely impacted after Gen V K Singh alleged that the Defence Ministry was "biased" and "lacked objectivity" on his age issue.

A few months ago, he had also asked the Defence Ministry to accept and implement the Army promotion boards for senior officers and promotion policy simultaneously without getting the latter approved in advance.

To avoid a stand-off on the issue, Defence Minister AK Antony got the Army promotion board of senior Army officers cleared despite reservations expressed by senior ministry officials.

PTI