Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar forms committee to make promotion system fair, transparent
"The defence ministry has decided to set up a committee of two officers who would give their recommendations to the government on the changes in promotion policy and the quantified system of selection for officers of the Indian Army," senior defence ministry sources said.
Against the backdrop of controversies surrounding promotions in the Army, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has formed a high-level committee to overhaul the system to make it more transparent and fair.
The decision to set up a committee comprising two retired lieutenant generals was taken by the defence minister soon after the retirement of previous Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag last month.
The two retired officers are Lt Gen G S Katoch and Lt Gen A K Ahuja, who recently superannuated as the deputy chief of Integrated Defence Staff and was responsible for procurement of weapon systems for the three services.
"The defence ministry has decided to set up a committee of two officers who would give their recommendations to the government on the changes in promotion policy and the quantified system of selection for officers of the Indian Army," senior defence ministry sources told Mail Today.
WHY THE COMMITTEE
- The aim of setting up the committee is to infuse "more objectivity, transparency and fairness in the promotion system that is coming under cloud very frequently as several officers are complaining against it to the ministry and taking government to courts".
- The biggest question mark on the promotion system was raised when a particular board for elevation of officers from the rank of Major General to Lieutenant General in 2015-16 came under the scanner for alleged payment of bribes by them.
- A couple of officers, who were considered by the promotion board, are still facing CBI inquiries for charges of disproportionate assets and could not be elevated to the next rank and had to retire from service.
- All the promotion boards have discretionary power of awarding five numbers to the officers in race for promotion and many a times, those who are left behind allege that this sometimes gives scope of favouritism in the force.
- Army officers also complain against the Military Secretary's branch of the Army which looks after promotions and postings of officers for lack of transparency in the system.
- That is why the committee has been asked by the ministry to cover aspects such as "calculation of vacancies, consideration of special review, deferred cases and matters such as notional empanelment".
- Recently, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) had come down heavily on the Army and Defence Ministry while hearing a case where an officer had allegedly deliberately concealed facts about his confidential records to get promotion.
- Taking a serious view, the court had ordered the officer, who is serving as Lt Gen, to be demoted to the rank of Brigadier. The matter has now reached the Supreme Court.
- While parting with that case, the AFT had remarked that "we feel corruption has crept in every system of the country and pray to almighty to impart justice and help the country recognise merit of the people serving the nation instead of extraneous considerations".
- To bring in major changes in the system, Parrikar has empowered the committee to call for any record and information from the Army headquarters and Defence Ministry.
- "A Brigadier from the Military Secretary's branch would be attached with the committee to arrange all logistics, secretarial and other assistance to the members," the sources said.
- To implement the recommendations in the earliest possible time frame, the defence minister has asked the committee to submit its report within one month from the date of its constitution.