Monday, November 26, 2012


by Col (Retd) TN Raman
First time in the History of the Indian Army, Delhi High court had ordered the cancellation of the entire Promotion Board proceedings of Maj Gen to Lt Gen of the 1975 batch officers, held on 07 Jan 2011. The repercussions are likely to be grave with many of the adversely affected officers likely to file litigations.
The immediate effect will be, two officers who have already been sent home after retirement will have to be reinstated. A few officers, who have unfairly benefitted may have to be ordered to relinquish their promotions to the rank of LT Gen. A more difficult and daunting task.
The judgment was based on the documents produced by the Army HQ (AHQ) and the notings by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The case related to two Maj Gens, Darshan Lal Choudhary and VSS Gouder, who were poised for promotion. The AHQ twice deferred the promotion board, for no justifiable reason and implemented a policy change that would work against them. Then quickly held the promotion board within three days of that illegitimate policy change. Maj Gen VSS Gouder was the most decorated officer of his batch. He had also served in the staff of Gen JJ Singh, when he was the COAS. May be considered as a negative factor by the then Miltary heirarchy.
 The Revised Quantified Model, as the new policy was named by Gen VK Singh, removed the weightage for decorations won by officers, which was contrary to MOD’s Policy Decision. The MOD gave its approval of the revised criteria to be implemented only after 01 April 2011. On 06 Jan 2011, one day before the Promotion Board, the MOD, wrote to the AHQ not to implement the revised model for that Promotion Board. But, the AHQ unilaterally decided to ignore the MOD’s direction.
And the MoD, knowing that its own orders had been violated, meekly ratified the board results, noting: “The Promotion Boards for Major Generals and Lt Generals are presided over by the Chief of Army Staff and has senior commanders of the Army as its members. It would be extremely detrimental to the discipline of the armed forces and the credibility of the system if the government cancels the entire proceedings of the Selection Boards comprising the top most generals of the Indian Army.”
The MoD allowed the flawed board results, even though the defence secretary noted on file that “there is a general disquiet in the environment at the delayed holding of the Promotion Boards and in making deviations from the extant policy which is reflected in the representations and RTI applications received in the ministry in this regard.”
“It is obvious that the defence secretary was more influenced by the credibility of the Promotion Board being adversely affected and not by the merits of the matter. He forgot that to commit an error is to do no wrong, but to perpetuate an error is to do a wrong,” said the Delhi High Court in its judgment. 
Jyoti Singh, the lawyer for Chowdhury and Goudar, says: “We are looking forward to the quick holding of a fresh promotion board, in which my clients are well-placed to be approved.” 
But Major General VSS Goudar is bitter about having to wage a long court battle for a legitimate promotion. “What is the charm in now being approved for promotion to lieutenant general? Promotion is not about monetary benefits, but about the pride of one’s achievements being recognised. One should not have to go to court for that.” 
(You are right Sir. But, Gen VK Singh himself said some thing on similar lines, when he took the Govt to SC, on his personal issue of DOB).  
There are a growing number of disputes stemming from the Army HQ’s frequent changes of promotion policy, which successive Army chiefs modify according to their own perceptions. This includes an impending legal challenge from a senior lieutenant general, which, if upheld, could see him as the next Army chief. Of course, if the Civil supremecy does not exert itself even then.
We all blame the Bureaucracy for many of our ills. But, this is a clear case of the same Bureaucracy, which failed to assert itself by cancelling the entire Promotion Board proceedings, instead of waiting for the High Court to do the same, after 22 months. We must accept that a sensible doctrine of Civil Supremacy, would avoid such embarrassments to the Army, and also would impart better justice, in cases like this.
Col TN Raman

The views expressed and Information provided by the author are his own and left to public to judge and rationalise for themselves.


  1. "If you have a problem, you can go to the court" [I know very well that you are not going to do that !]

    This is the approach often taken by many who are responsible for holding the sanctity of the rules and regulations. They have known that nothing of sort happens for most of the time. By the time someone approaches the court and the court makes some reversals a complex situation has already arisen which cannot be rectified fully. But those responsible for twisting the rules have escaped unhurt.

    The ultimate effect is that we have a system which is amenable to any kind of interpretations.

    Unless we have people of character and competence in all lead positions, this kind of a situation is going to be the permanent feature of the Indian way of life !

  2. I agree with Mr Rajan C Mathew. Its a cursing state of affair in this country even the green-attire has to knock the judicial door for every thing. Yes "we should have people of character and competence in all lead positions"