Selection authorities suited to select Army Cdr: SC

Selection authorities suited to select Army Cdr: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday said apart from seniority, a number of factors are considered for appointment as the Army Commander and the authorities are the best suited to pick one among the officers.

"In making appointments to such crucial posts which carry enormous functional responsibilities bearing on the defence needs of the Armed Forces and ultimately of the nation, a range of relevant considerations can be borne in mind," a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said.

The top court said it would not be appropriate in the course of judicial review to confine the appointing authority to a narrow range of considerations in such matter.

It dismissed a plea by Lieutenant General (now retired) Ravi Dastane, against a judgment of September 6, 2013 of the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Dastane's challenge to the selection of Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command and Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chachra, GOC-in-C, Northern Command as Army Commanders was rejected.

After the decision of the AFT, Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh was appointed as Chief of Army Staff and retired from service on December 31, 2016. Lieutenant General Chachra retired from service on May 31, 2014. The appellant retired from service on September 30, 2014.

Dealing with Dastane's plea, the bench said, "Seniority may be a relevant consideration: seniority brings with it the experience of an organisation, experience in handling situations and experience in perspective and planning. The post, however, remains a selection post."

But, the appointing authority is best suited to determine who among the officers in the rank of Lieutenant General is suited for appointment against a vacancy to the post of Army Commander (General Officer Commanding in Chief), the court added.

The court also said an officer has no vested right to claim promotion on the basis of seniority alone. But that does not mean that the authority entitled to make the appointment must ignore seniority.