The AFT has found that the present promotion policy denied Major Generals of the Staff stream a chance to be promoted as Lt. Generals in the staff stream and thus creates a class within class.
The Army’s promotion policy for its senior most ranks may come in for a overhaul with the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) holding that the government should review the ‘two-stream’ promotion policy for promotion of Major Generals to Lieutenant Generals and finding the policy to be in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
In a judgement delivered by Justice VK Shali and Lt Gen SK Singh of the Principal Bench New Delhi, the AFT has found that the present promotion policy denied Major Generals of the Staff stream a chance to be promoted as Lt Generals in the staff stream and thus creates a class within class.
Acting on a petition filed by Maj Gen KA Muthanna, the AFT has ordered that the review of the policy, which is in violation of the Constutional provisions, should be completed within four months with an aim to implement as expeditiously as possible and preferably before the next Special Selection Board for the ranki of Lt General due in October 2017.
The tribunal has also ordered that the applicant, who has since superannuated, will be given consideration in consonance with new policy, and if found fit, be given consequential benefits.
Maj Gen Muthanna, an infantry officer of the December 1978 batch had challaned the Ministry of Defence (MoD) policy wherein Maj Generals who were promoted in the staff stream were not considered for promotion to Lt general in the staff stream while Maj Generals in other streams were considered for promotion.
As per the policy at present, when Brigadiers of the General Cadre (Infantry, Armoured Corps, Mechanised Infantry and selected officers from other arms such as Artillery, Engineers and Signals) are screened for promotion to the rank of Maj General, they are split into two streams based on merit. The top of the selected lot go into the ‘Command and Staff’ stream while the remaining selected lot goes into the ‘Staff Only’ stream. ‘Command and Staff’ stream implies that these Generals can hold both positions of command (of battle formations) and/or administrative staff positions.