Senior Navy officer seeks VRS after junior made chief

Senior Navy officer seeks VRS after junior made chief

India’s senior-most Navy officer Vice Admiral Sekhar Sinha sought to take a voluntary premature retirement as he has been superseded by his junior Vice Admiral Robin Dhowan, who was appointed Navy chief by the government.

“We received a letter from Admiral Sinha seeking resignation from the service on Thursday night. The ministry will decide on the letter as per the laid down procedure,” said an official of the Defence Ministry. Admiral Sinha is senior to Admiral Dhowan by about six months.

Though the Defence Ministry and the Union Cabinet generally follow the seniority principle while deciding on the top posts, this time, the government junked that practice. There is, however, no explanation from the government why the senior-most officer was ignored.

In his letter to the ministry, Sinha has reportedly complained to the minister for being overlooked for the top post. The vice admiral said if justice could not be done to him, he should be given voluntary retirement.

In normal course, Sinha is due to retire on August 31, 2014. Sinha, who heads the western naval command in Mumbai, is also a “Grey Eagle” as he is the senior-most naval aviator.

The armed forces in the past witnessed similar resignations. In 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi picked up Lt Gen A S Vaidya to head the Indian Army ignoring Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned immediately.

Five years later, Air Marshal S K (Polly) Mehra overtook Air Marshal M M Singh to head the Indian Air Force. Singh resigned.

Ever since the sudden resignation of previous Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi in February taking moral responsibility for a string of major and minor accidents, there were intense speculation on who would be the next Navy chief.

Some of the serious accidents like those involving the submarines INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna that led to several casualties, had happened under the jurisdiction of the Western Naval Command headed by Sinha.

But there is no official word on whether Sinha was overlooked because of those accidents.

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