Succession row: AFT asks govt to respond to Lt Gen's petition
New Delhi: The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Friday asked the government to file its reply to a petition by a senior Lt General who has challenged the promotion of two colleagues of same rank as Army Commanders while seeking his own elevation to that post.
The two officers in question are Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is likely to be the successor of Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh in 2014, and Western Army Commander Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra.
Hearing the petition filed by Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, the bench of Justice N P Gupta and Lt Gen SS Dhillon asked the government and the two army commanders to file their responses to the petition in the next hearing.
The AFT declined to stay the appointment process for the vacancy of Army Commander falling vacant on February 1 due to superannuation of Southern Army Commander Lt Gen A K Singh.
In his petition filed by advocate S K Sanan, Lt Gen Dastane has pleaded that the Defence Ministry be directed to give him the "status and appointment of Army Commander from June 1, 2012".
Gen Dastane's previous counsel Maj S S Pandey had earlier said on June 1, the government had kept the post of Eastern Army Commander vacant for two to three days before Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was appointed whereas Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachhra was appointed as the Western Army Commander on June 1.
The post was not filled as just before retirement, Gen VK Singh had put Lt Gen Suhag under a discipline and vigilance ban for a failed intelligence operation in Assam. The ban, however, was lifted within 72 hours of Gen Bikram Singh assuming office.
"On that day, Lt Gen Dastane was also eligible to be elevated as an Army Commander and we will plead before the AFT to give us that appointment," Pandey had said.
If the plea is accepted, then Gen Dastane may become senior to Lt Gen Suhag who is expected to succeed Gen Bikram Singh in July next year.
Gen Dastane has commanded the 14 Corps in Laddakh and was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) when troops in an artillery regiment beat up their officers in Nyoma during an exercise. He is scheduled to retire in September next year.