The Supreme Court on Monday refused to put a stay on the government’s decision to appoint Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief. Suhag is set to take over as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on August 1.
Filed by Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, the petition seeking stay on Suhag’s appointment had alleged favouritism in the selection of Lt Gen Suhag as the Army commander in-line to take over as the Army Chief.
Besides challenging Lt Gen Suhag’s appointment as Army Commander of Eastern Command, Dastane has also questioned the Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra as Western Commander. Dastane had contended that their appointment should be set aside as only one name per post was sent to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) based on the principle of seniority whereas four senior officers who were eligible for the two vacancies should have been considered.
Lt Gen Dastane argued that he was the third senior-most officer eligible for the post of Army Commander of Eastern or Western Command.
Suhag’s appointment as Army Chief was also questioned by former army chief and now union minister VK Singh.
Singh had placed Lt Gen Suhag under a Disciplinary and Vigilance (DV) ban for alleged “failure of command and control” in an operation carried out by an intelligence unit working directly under him when he was working as the then Dimapur-based 3 Corps commander.
However, the Centre while responding to Dastane’s plea had told the Supreme Court that the alleged lapses which were made as grounds to impose disciplinary ban on Army Vice Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag by then army chief VK Singh between April and May 2012 were “premeditated”, “vague” and “illegal”.
The Ministry of Defence, in a recent affidavit filed in the apex court registry, has said, “The alleged lapses observed by the then COAS, as reflected in show cause notice, were premeditated and issued in utter disregard to the legal provisions governing the court of inquiry, principles of natural justice… the lapses were vague, based on presumptions and legally and factually not maintainable.”
“Evidently, the entire exercise to issue show cause notice was premeditated and as per records, the directions issued in this regard, including imposition of the DV ban and issue of show cause notice were found to be illegal,” it said.