The Armed Forces Tribunal has pulled up Gen V K Singh for "showing favour" and "without jurisdiction" reviewing a central government order to promote a Brigadier belonging to his unit to the rank of Major General in October 2011 when he was the Army chief.
Dismissing a petition filed by Brigadier Ajay Singh Panwar, Tribunal's Principal Bench headed by Justice A K Mathur said the Defence Ministry had "correctly approached" the matter by withholding petitioner's promotion to the next rank after finding "glaring inconsistency" in his promotion records.
"In present context, it appears that it is a clear case of showing favour to a particular individual. In these circumstances, we find there is no merit in the petition and the same is dismissed," the Tribunal said.
Brigadier Panwar had approached the tribunal for being promoted to the rank of Major General as he was cleared by a promotion board in October 2011, when Gen Singh was the Army chief.
His promotion was withheld after the defence ministry went through the minutes of the meetings of the promotion board and found that eight other officers, who had got better marks than him, were "ignored".
The Tribunal also observed that the then Army Chief had expunged certain remarks from the service record of the Brigadier over-riding a previous order by the central government.
"The entertaining of a second Statutory Complaint and reviewing the order of Defence Ministry was totally unwarranted coupled with granting high value judgment marks was also not warranted by the selection board. These two things put together shows that he was given favoured treatment from person who matters," Justice Mathur said.
"In the scheme of things in our country, once an order is passed by the central Government, the Army Chief has no jurisdiction to sit over the matter and all that he could do is to forward the petition to the central government for reconsideration or review of the same.... Therefore, the review order passed by the Chief of Army Staff is totally without jurisdiction," he said.
The remarks that were expunged from the service records of Brigadier Panwar were over nine years old and he had already been once given relief by the defence ministry on the basis of a statutory complaint filed by him.
On the issue of giving high value judgment marks to the Brigadier, the Tribunal said there were eight officers who have been superseded by the petitioner according to the recommendation of the Selection Board.
"We have gone through the entire records and examined the matter dispassionately. It is a case in which the petitioner stands to benefit because of one reason or the other and our judicial propriety does not us to say beyond this," the Tribunal said.