Defence services, India: legal and service issues
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Ajai Vikram Singh Committee report, 2001
Government's acceptance: 2004
AV Singh panel report on Army promotions accepted |December 16, 2004 | Zee News
New Delhi, Dec 16: In a move to reduce the age profile of commanding officers and to ease rank stagnation at the level of Majors and Lt Colonels, government today announced acceptance of major recommendations of an official committee which are likely to benefit 90 per cent of army's officers.
The acceptance of a part of long-pending report of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee was announced by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee who said the step would "ensure better career prospects in the armed forces".
A major offshoot of the announcement will be that way will be paved for army to have a youthful profile of its combat level officers, including battalion commanders and brigade commanders.
The need for reducing the age of combat level officers was felt badly during the Kargil crisis when in mountainous terrain, a lot of battalion commanders were not able to keep pace with the fighting force under their command.
Under the committee's recommendations, the promotions to the rank of Colonel, who is a battalion Commanding Officer, would be granted on completion of 26 years of service and promotion of officers to the time-based rank of Lt Colonels on completion of 13 years of service from the present 18 years.
At the first instance, Lt General Rana Kapur, a top official at the Army Headquarters, said the implementation of the report would lead to promotion of 750 Lt Colonels to the rank of full Colonel.
Kapur said the government announcement referred to the implementation of the first phase of the committee report which had been forwarded by the Army Headquarters and is estimated to cost the exchequer Rs 30 crore in the first year.
"The remaining portions of the report is likely to be implemented in next three to four years," he said.
A government announcement said the cases relating to air force and navy would "progress separately."
It also under the new scheme, promotion of the rank of Captain would take place in two years in place of four years at present and that to the rank of Major in six years instead of 10 years as at present.
This step would "rectify imbalances of vertical relatively at unit level which crept in when Commanding Officers of units were upgraded to the rank of Colonel," the announcement said.
Mukherjee said Finance Minister P Chidambaram had accepted all the recommendations put forward to it by his ministry to "ensure career prospects of army officials and reduce the age at combating level of Commanding Officers."
"The government is fully aware of the contribution of military to the nation and is trying to do what it can to address their problems and ensure the use of high technology so that it remains a first-rate fighting machine," Mukherjee said speaking at a function held on 'Vijay Divas', the anniversary of India's victory on Pakistan in 1971, to release a book 'blood and guts - the saga of Indian arms'.
Army Chief Gen N C Vij and Navy chief Arun Prakash were also present.
Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh said the other recommendations of the committee headed by him were under consideration of concerned ministries.
Kapur said the move would make the army more attractive for young people and recruitment drive would be stepped up.
Mukherjee recommended that the coffee table book, an attempt to put into perspective the martial heritage of Indians from the time of the Ramayana, be acquired by schools across the country so that students can know of the valour of soldiers.
2009, Phase II: 1,896 posts approved
Govt approves 1,896 new posts in defence forces| October 03, 2008| Rediff
The government approved 1,896 new posts in the three defence forces at the top level from colonels to lieutenant generals and their equivalents. "The cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has taken a decision to implement the Phase-II of Ajai Vikram Singh Committee report,"
The implementation of Phase II of the report that recommended creation of the additional posts will ensure quicker promotions to army, navy and air force officers. The decision is also aimed at stemming the high rate of attrition among middle-rung officers from majors to colonels and their equivalents in the three services, which already face a shortage of about 13,000 officers, mostly in the middle-rung. The move will cost the exchequer Rs 8.44 crore annually, government sources said.
Under the proposal, the army will get about 1,051 new posts upgraded in select ranks and it will be implemented over a five-year period.
The upgraded or created posts included 20 lieutenant generals, 75 major generals, 222 brigadiers and 734 colonels.
The army already has 61 lt generals, 199 major generals, 824 brigadiers and 3,389 colonels serving it at present.
The navy, on the other hand, would get 342 posts of commanders upgraded to select grade ranks from within the authorised strength of the Indian Navy. But this would be done over 10 years.
The Cabinet approved the creation of four new vice admiral, 14 rear admiral and 324 commodore and captain ranks under the AVSC report.
Navy already has 15 vice admirals, 43 rear admirals and 418 commodores and captains serving it at present.
The air force too would get 503 new posts by restructuring of the officer cadre of select ranks over a five-year period.
That would comprise of six air marshals, 21 air vice marshals, 61 air commodore and 415 group captains.
Already, the IAF has an existing strength of 22 air marshals, 47 air vice marshals, 131 air commodores and 476 group captains serving at present.
With the armed forces not attracting enough talent in recent times and with premature retirements plaguing them the government had set-up the committee under former Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh to suggest ways of making the services attractive as a career for the youth.
Based on the committee's recommendations for restructuring of the officer cadre, the government implemented the Phase I of the report concerning lower rungs from captains to lt colonels in the army and their equivalents in the navy and air force in 2004.
2016: Supreme Court allows 'command and exit' model
Sudhi Ranajn Sen | Army Plan To Ensure Younger Officers Lead Combat Is Cleared India | February 15, 2016 | NDTV
Supreme Court allows 'command and exit' model for promotions in the army
SC directs government to create 141 extra vacancies for post of Colonel
Government had approved this policy to maintain a younger combat force
A plan by the army that it says will place younger officers in charge of combat has been cleared today the Supreme Court.
The army's "command and exit policy", introduced in 2009, was and rejected last year by the army's internal court or the Armed Forces Tribunal India - a decision trumped today by the Supreme Court.
In 1999, the "sluggish response" of the army during the Kargil War with Pakistan was highlighted by a government committee which concluded that colonels and brigadiers need to be younger to efficiently lead the army during wars.
The Ajay Vikram Singh committee - named for the bureaucrat who headed it - pointed out that the average age of a colonel leading an Indian combat unit was 41, while it was 37 for the armies of Pakistan and China.
"The committee came up with a series of short and longer term proposals aimed at pulling more officers up the chain of command, while peeling off those who had no avenue of advancement," said analyst Srinath Raghavan in a column for ndtv.com.
The so-called command and exit policy affects promotions for the ranks of Colonel, Brigadier, Major General and General, and decrees that when they turn 40, they be moved to a non-combat section with the same rank - "lateral absorption" - or be compensated through measures like a voluntary retirement scheme.
The government has confirmed to the court that it will create nearly 140 additional posts for non-combat corps as compensation for senior officers within those arms.
The main petitioner in the case, Lt-Col PK Choudhary, argued that many senior officers would have to forgo promotions and be over-taken by junior officers. He also claimed that the policy was skewed to favour the artillery and infantry arms by giving them more vacancies for promotions. Nearly 200 officers joined him in challenging the policy, claiming that it would create fissures within the army.
Armed Forces Tribunals
High courts have powers to review a TF orders: HTC 2023
February 2, 2023: The Times of India
New Delhi : The Delhi HC held that high courts have the jurisdiction and powers of judicial review against the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).
The full bench of justices Manmohan, Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna pronounced the judgement, holding that the writ jurisdiction of HCs is not completely ousted by the statutory appeal mechanism provided under Sections 30 and 31 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.
The full bench said the issue has already been decided by the SC in Balkrishna Ram vs Union of India (2020), where the apex court held that appeals from the AFT could be decided by the HCs.
“That the writ jurisdiction of the high courts for judicial review isnot completely ousted by the statutory appeal mechanism provided under Sections 30 and 31 of the AFT Act, 2007 is no longer res integra in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Balkrishna Ram vs Union of India and anr. (2020) 2 SCC 442 (sic),” the full bench said in its 11page judgement. The term ‘res integra’ is applied to those points of the law which have not been decided, which are untouched by dictum or decision. Itis a point not covered by the authority of a decided case, so that a judge may decide it upon principle alone.
The full bench was constituted after it was noted that there may be a difference of opinion between two benches on the issue of powers of the HC to deal with petitions against decisions of the AFT.
The matter was referred to a larger bench in view of a “difference of opinion” between two different benches in two matters — Major Nishant Kaushik vs Union of India and Wing Commander Shyam Naithani vs Union of India and Ors.
Army Services Corps
The `non-operational' issue, as in 2017
Dhananjay Mahapatra | Major moves SC against `operational' posting with RR | Sep 20 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)
`Non-Combatant Categorisation Hits Prospects Of Promotion'
The row over categorising Army Services Corps (ASC) officers as `non-operational' when it comes to promotion continues to simmer despite three rounds of litigation in the Supreme Court.
After the SC in 2016 upheld the Ajay Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) classification for promotion of officers in combat and services corps and settled the dispute by asking the authorities to release additional colonel posts for promotion of services corps officers, these officers demanded proportional increase in posts above the rank of colonel for promotion purposes.
With the SC refusing to entertain a review petition, over 100 officers of lieutenant colonel and major ranks of ASC recently moved a petition seeking parity in promotion with combat officers. They said they too got posted in operational areas and had given extreme sacrifices at par with combat officers. However, the SC's reluctance to entertain the petition forced them to withdraw it.
In Sept 2017 , Major Amod Kumar from ASC, posted with 44 RR, Shopian, moved the SC challenging his posting and rejection of his representation to Army authorities against the `operational' area posting of a `non-operational' category officer.
“Having reiterated the position in the Supreme Court during previous hearings that services officers are not posted in operational areas, surprising ly, the Army authorities have rejected the representation stating that the vacancies in which the petitioners were being posted were to be staffed by services officers only ,“ Major Kumar's petition said.
“The AVSC recommended command-exit policy provided for a command tenure of 2.5 years for infantry and artillery officers, three years for armoured officers, four years for engineers, signals and air defence officers and five years for services officers. This categorisation of tenure had a direct effect on the promotional avenues available to officers of various corps creating discrimination and batch disparity ,“ the petition added.
Major Kumar said with the SC accepting the classification of `operational' and `nonoperational' officers, the matter had reached finality and it was not open to Army authorities to post a `non-operational' category officer in an `operational' combat unit, he said.
The major added, “Services officers are routinely deployed in operational areas despite Army authorities holding them to be `non-operational'. A large number of services officers have been martyred while serving in operational areas. Considering the policy of Army authorities regarding services officers, the petitioner cannot be compelled to serve in an operational area and to do so is in violation of his fundamental right and principles of natural justice.“
Death-cum-retirement gratuity (DCRG)
'Different benefits for similar injuries is discrimination’
Tribunal Puts Army In Dock...
New Delhi: When a bullet coming from the other side of the border does not distinguish between a commissioned and noncommissioned officer in the Army, how can the government do so when it comes to grant of death-cum-retirement gratuity (DCRG), wondered the newlyconstituted Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.
In a major order that would assuage the long-standing grievance of the officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, AFT principal bench comprising chairperson Justice A K Mathur and member Lt Gen M L Naidu said this discrimination in payment of DCRG was violative of Article 14 (right to equality) guaranteed under the Constitution.
A petition filed by the Disabled War Veterans (India) through counsel Aishwarya Bhati had made two major grievances — one relating to the difference in payment of DCRG and the other regarding computation of pension for a disabled soldier.
Bhati had alleged that the government takes into account the minimum payscale in the rank of the disabled soldier to compute the war injury pension to him and had requested AFT to direct the Centre to consider taking into account the highest pay in the rank for the purpose.
AFT agreed on both counts with the counsel. On DCRG, it said once the short service commission officers and the permanent service commission officers fight on the border shoulder-to-shoulder, they formed the same class and no further distinction can be made.
“Once they form the same class and they are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against the enemy and if unfortunately both of them receive an injury and they are disabled then no distinction can be made in the payment of DCRG,” the AFT said. “We cannot give them benefit, but we can only request the government that this payment of DCRG on the basis of distinction between short service commission and regular service commission is highly discriminatory. We hope and trust that the government will remove this discrimination which is apparent on the face of it,” it said.
Coming to computation of war injury pension, the AFT said the cause of injury which disabled a soldier and cut short his career was beyond the control of the personnel and such persons should be treated fairly by being given war injury pension on the basis of the highest pay in the rank.
“We feel strongly that it is a matter which requires serious consideration of the government that a person whose career has been sacrificed for safeguarding the Indian border and he is to be treated in such a poor way that he is being paid war disabled pension on the basis of minimum of the scale of that rank,” the AFT bench said.
Sharp increase in claims between 2008 and 2014
The Times of India, November 21, 2015
Claims jumped after payout was hiked by last pay panel
Employees and trade unions say 7th pay panel recommendations not good enough
One rank, one pension (OROP) for military veterans may be fine but the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) has found that the number of senior officers, especially brigadiers and above, claiming disability pension witnessed a major jump after the payout for disability was increased by the last pay panel. Observing that there was “an upward trend in personnel superannuating with disability element at senior levels“, while it had gone down for jawans and junior commissioned officers (JCOs), the pay panel recommended junking the regime implemented after the Sixth CPC and a return to the earlier, more equitable, “slab based system“.
There have been several cases in recent years of senior officers, which include even a former Army chief, taking the pension system for a ride by claiming higher disability pension.
The pay commission questioned the rationale of awarding disability pension to officers as a percentage of their last pay drawn as it had resulted in high ranking officers, brigadiers and above, claiming disability since the payout went up. The pay panel found that officers retiring with disability in the armed forces increased from 13% in 2007-08 to 20% in 2013-14.
On the other hand, jawans and JCOs were less affected by disability and a lesser number of them were drawing disability pension. The percentage of JCOsother ranks retiring with disability actually decreased from 19% in 2007-08 to 7% in 2013-14.
“Implementation of the Sixth CPC recommendations resulted in a substantial increase in the disability element. For 100% disability , at the minimum level, for jawans, it went up from Rs 1,550 to Rs 3,138, a little over double while at the highest level, among officers, it went up from Rs 2,600 to Rs 27,000, by more than 10 times,“ the pay panel said. The shift from slab-based system to a percentage-based regime for disability pension after implementation of the Sixth CPC's recommendations was contrary to the tenets of equity , in so far as treatment of disability element between officers and JCOs ORs was concerned, it said.
“The commission is, therefore, of the view that the regime implemented postSixth CPC needs to be discontinued, and recommends a return to the slab-based system,“ it said while giving suggestions on reverting to the slab rates. To examine recent trends in disability cases, the pay panel had sought data -total number of pensioners superannuating with disability element each year -from the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA).
'Duty’: Definition of
Does a toilet break count as ‘duty’?
‘Soldiers on loo break still on nation’s duty’
Ajay Sura TNN
The Times of India 2013/07/26
Chandigarh: A soldier taking a loo break during work hours should be deemed on duty for the nation, the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh said on Thursday while ordering Rs 10 lakh damages for a jawan’s widow.
The widow, Daxina Devi, was denied compensation as her husband, sepoy Lakshman Kumar, was on his way to toilet when he died after suffering head injuries after a fall along the India-China border in Ladakh on August 15, 2009. Justice Vinod Kumar Ahuja-led AFT bench ordered the compensation meant for soldiers killed on duty in Kumar’s case with an additional 10% interest. Devi had challenged the decision to deny her compensation on hyper technical grounds and called it perverse.
CoI had declared death as casualty
Chandigarh: The Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh on Thursday ordered Rs 10 lakh damages for a jawan’s widow after her husband, sepoy Lakshman Kumar, died after a fall on his way to toilet. The Tribunal ordered that a soldier taking a loo break during work hours should be deemed on duty for the nation.
The widow, Daxina Devi, had challenged the Allahabad-based principal controller of defence accounts (PCDA) decision to deny her compensation on hyper technical grounds and called it perverse.
A court of inquiry (CoI) had declared the soldier’s death as a casualty in an operational area. But PCDA denied Devi compensation given to soldiers who die on bona fide military duty, saying he was not on duty when he suffered injuries.
“It seems strange that the office of the PCDA is suggesting that a person should not even go out to attend the nature’s call and if he does, he shall not be considered on duty during those particular moments,’’ Devi said in her petition before the ATF in November 2012. “Such an approach of authorities is also against the very existence of human biology.’’
Married Accommodation Project
Armed forces, India: welfare issues
Jawans sans home and hearth
Married Accommodation Project For Soldiers Still A Pipe Dream
New Delhi: Leave alone supersonic fighter jets or complex ballistic missile defence systems, the defence establishment seems incapable of even providing something as basic as decent family accommodation to its armed forces.
Even as the defence ministry flounders, deadline after deadline of the much-touted Married Accommodation Project (MAP), touted as a major welfare measure for soldiers, airmen and sailors, is being missed with huge cost escalation.
Consequently, while officers have it relatively easy, a majority of jawans are forced to stay away from their families for prolonged periods, which is one of the factors cited for the high levels of stress prevalent in the forces. Incidentally, the 13 lakh-strong armed forces record over 120 suicide and ‘fragging’ cases every year.
MAP was conceived a decade ago to ameliorate some of the hardship faced by jawans since there was limited housing available for married personnel. Though the aim was to construct just 1,98,881 new dwelling units, in four phases at an estimated cost of Rs 17,357 crore, it was considered a good beginning.
But it has flattered to deceive. In May 2002, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved construction of 61,658 dwelling units under phase-I, which were to be ready by 2005-2006.
Eight years later, even after the number of units to be constructed was reduced to 58,391 in 86 military stations at a cost of Rs 5,329 crore, phase-I is yet to be completed. ‘‘Only about 42,000 units are ready till now,’’ said an official. ‘‘The less said about phase-II the better. Under it, 66,727 units have to be constructed in a compressed timeframe by March 2012. It will simply not be possible,’’ he said.
MoD, on its part, says phase-II will not be branched off to PSUs, like it was in phase-I. Defence minister A K Antony has ‘directed’ senior officials to ensure ‘strict adherence’ to the March 2012 deadline.
While 75% of the work in phase-II will be executed directly by the directorate general of MAP, the other 25% will be handled by MES (military engineering service), to avoid slippages and cost escalation.
But given the track record of both MAP and MES till now, the timely execution of phase-II, at a cost of Rs 9,938 crore, is likely to remain a pipedream.
Moreover, no definite timeframes for phase-III and IV, under which over 70,000 units are to be constructed, have been chalked out in detail. MoD officials, however, said the government had ‘agreed in principle’ to combine the last two phases to complete the entire MAP ‘at the earliest’
Must satisfy physical standards for permanent commission
The Times of India, Jan 23 2016
Armed forces not an old age home, no place for unfit: SC
Junks Plea Of IAF Officer For Permanent Commission
The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it would soon notify a stringent green regime for the construction industry , including stiff penalty on those executing housing projects without prior environmental clearance, reports Dhananjay Mahapatra. Additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul told the bench that those who executed projects without approval would be made to pay for the environmental damage, in addition to facing criminal prosecution if the violations were grave. A physically unfit person cannot be allowed to work for the defence forces, the Supreme Court said on Friday while rejecting a woman IAF officer's plea for permanent commission even though she had failed to clear the medical test. “Armed force is not an old age home where sick, ill and diseased persons can work and hold posts. You are not satisfying the physical standard required for permanent commission,“ a bench of Chi ef Justice T S Thakur and Justice R Banumathi said while rejecting the plea of Squadron Leader Shilpa Rao.
Rao was commissioned in the IAF in 2005 as a Short Service Commission officer in the administration branch and her application for permanent commission was rejected by the government in 2015 because she was suffering from a minor disease called Mitral Valve Prolapse.
Senior advocate Mahavir Singh and advocate Nikhil Jain, appearing for Rao, said she had been performing her duties despite the illness which did not require any treatment or change in lifestyle.
“While considering her for grant of permanent commission, it is ought to be kept in mind that medical standards or an already serving officer who is able to discharge her duties effectively despite medical problems cannot be the same as those prescribed for a new entrant to the service,“ Singh told the bench.
Rao alleged in her plea that her medical report specifically mentioned that she was fit for all ground duties and she could face a problem only in areas 2,700 meters above sea level.
“There are only three IAF stations at that height out of the total of more than 100 service areas and more than 90% of officers are never posted to those areas. Also, she is a ground duty officer and, therefore, the above mentioned restrictions are no hindrance to her in performing her ground duties,“ Rao's petition said.
Paraplegic officers, injured in action/‘battle casualty’
Reaching high ranks
Brig on wheelchair to be maj-gen
Razdan Was Paralysed Waist-Down After Suffering Injury Battling Militants
New Delhi: In a stirring achievement, a paraplegic Army officer who uses a wheelchair, Brigadier S K Razdan, is all set to become a two-star officer or a major general.
While this is not the first time that physically challenged officers have reached high ranks, with at least two having even become senior three-star officers or lieutenant generals, the feat is possible only through steely determination and sheer grit.
Razdan was a lieutenant colonel in the special forces when he participated in an intensive counterterrorism operation in Damal Kunzipur area of Jammu & Kashmir in October 1994 to save several Muslim women taken hostage by militants. While the women were successfully rescued, the brave officer suffered grave injuries to his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed below the waist. Razdan was awarded the Kirti Chakra, the nation’s second-highest peacetime gallantry award, in 1996, for his act of valour. The officer, confined to a wheelchair, later went on to become a brigadier. And now, Razdan has been approved for the next rank, a major general, and will ‘pick up his rank’ once there is a vacancy.
‘‘As per Army rules, any injury or disability suffered in war, counterterrorism or any other operation, which is called a ‘battle casualty’, does not come in the way of any soldier in his promotion boards as long as he is capable of performing his duties,’’ said a senior officer.
However, if a soldier suffers a ‘physical casualty’, that is, gets disabled in training or an accident, then there is no recourse but to put him in a lower medical category. He is allowed to serve if he can perform his duties but there is a bar on him getting promoted or attending some particular courses. Otherwise, he is boarded out.
Take, for instance, Lt-Gen Pankaj Joshi, who passed away last year. Commissioned into the Gorkha Rifles in 1962, he lost both his legs during a mine-clearing mission in Sikkim in 1967. But through sheer grit after becoming a ‘battle casualty’, he went on to command an armoured brigade, an armoured division and a corps before becoming the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Lucknow-based Central Army Command.
That’s not all. Joshi also became India’s first-ever chief of the tri-Service integrated defence staff in October 2001, established in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict, and retired after a fruitful tenure.
The 1.13-million strong Indian Army, in fact, has also had a lieutenant general, who was disabled, as vice-chief. Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi, who lost one of his legs during an operation as a young officer, served as the vice-chief in 2000-2001 after first serving as the director general of military operations, a strike corps commander, and then chief of the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command.
2015: Permanent commission for women officers
The Times of India, Aug 01 2015
Big leap: 340 women officers get permanent commission
Women are slowly managing to pierce the glass ceiling of getting permanent commission as officers in the Indian armed forces, even though combat roles still do not figure anywhere on the horizon for them. As per latest figures provided by defence minister Manohar Parrikar in Parliament on Friday , the armed forces have granted permanent commission (PC) to 340 women officers till now. The number is miniscule considering there are over 60,000 officers in the 1.3 million strong armed forces. But it does represent a hard-won victory for women, who for long have fought legal battles and entrenched mindsets in the predominantly male environs of the Army , Navy and IAF ever since they be gan donning military uniforms in the early-1990s.
The country's civilian leadership and military brass, of course, still consider combat roles for women a strictly no-go area due to “operational, practical and cultural problems“. So, even if some women have managed to wrangle PC instead of being allowed to serve a maximum of 1415 years as short-service commission (SSC) officers, they cannot fly fighters, serve on warships or join the infantry , armoured corps and artillery .
Technology is increasingly making characteristics like physical hardiness redundant but in India, women find it tough to get PC even in “noncombatant or combat-support arms“. PC for them remains largely restricted to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) wing and Army Education Corps, and their corresponding branches in Navy and IAF.
The armed forces will have to change their policies if gender equality is not to remain mere lip-service in their ranks. “ A lot of cultural and operational adjustments had to be made when women were first inducted in the 1990s.Some more are needed now to induct women in greater numbers,“ said an officer.
2015, November: SC stays HC order
The Times of India, Nov 21 2015
SC stays order on permanent post in Navy for women
The Supreme Court stayed the Delhi high court order allowing women serving as short service commission officers to get permanent commission in the Navy. A bench of Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda issued notice to the woman Navy officers on whose plea the high court had passed the order allowing permanent commission for them in the force. The government had challenged the order in the apex court.
“Pending further orders from this court, we direct that such of the respondents (petitioners before the high court) as were serving as short service commissioned officers in the Navy as on September 26, 2008, shall be allowed to continue on the terms and conditions applicable to them in that capacity ,“ the bench said.
Attorney general Mukul Rohtagi told the SC that the high court had “erroneously“ held it as a case of gender discrimination.
A fundamental right
Promotion a fundamental right, SC says
TNN | Jan 12, 2014
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that an eligible candidate has a fundamental right to be considered for promotion against the available vacancy and promoted if adjudged suitable.
The ruling from a bench of Justices AK Patnailk and JS Khehar came as they set aside as "invalid" the order of the Cabinet's appointment committee not accepting the recommendation of a selection board to promote Maj Gen HM Singh as Lt Gen.
"..., if the appellant was the senior most serving Major General eligible for consideration (which he undoubtedly was), he most definitely had the fundamental right of being considered against the above vacancy, and also the fundamental right of being promoted if he was adjudged suitable," said the bench in a judgment delivered on Thursday.
"Failing which, he would be deprived of his fundamental right of equality before law, and equal protection of laws, extended by Article 14," said Justice Khehar.
Rank after retirement
Rank never retires, officer does: Army
Ajay Sura,TNN | Aug 3, 2014 The Times of India
Long after an officer retires, or even expires, he is still known by his rank.
Supporting the view that 'the rank never retires, the officer does, the Army has issued instructions that aim to immortalize the rank.
With a view to remove any confusion among the retired Army personnel regarding the use of word 'retired', the Army headquarters has clarified that instead of prefixing the word 'Retd.' to an officer's name, now his address would have the suffix 'Retd.'
"Of late it has been observed that retired officers are mentioning the word 'Retd' after their rank which is incorrect. Ranks of service officers are granted by the President of India and valid not only during their lifetime but also after their demise. The privilege is only given to service officers," read the circular issued by the directorate general of staff duties department of Army General Service (GS) branch.
The circular, issued on July 21 by the Army has informed all the officers, "the correct form of mentioning Retd is Brigadier ABC (Retd) not Brig (Retd) ABC".
The Army officers are entitled to retain their rank before their name by virtue of Article 18 of the Constitution, according to which the military ranks can be retained and used by the military personnel with their name.
Soldiers injured before ’47 entitled to war injury pension
Ajay Sura|`Soldiers injured before independence entitled to war injury pension'|Jul 19 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)
The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that soldiers who were disabled in wars before India's independence would be entitled to the same injury pension as post-independence war heroes. The AFT passed orders while allowing a petition filed by Sowar Amar Singh of the Armoured Corps, who was denied war injury pension by the Centre. Singh, who was injured during World War II, was being paid regular `disability pension' as admissible in cases of normal diseases incurred during service. Singh emphasised the difference in pensions was unjustified as the post-Independence Indian Army , which came into effect from August 15, 1947, had simply inherited the British Indian Army .
100+ suicides a year; 125 in 2016
Over 100 military personnel commit suicide every year, March 11, 2017: The Times of India
The armed forces continue to lose around 100 personnel to suicides every year despite successive governments holding that several measures have been taken to reduce stress among soldiers. As many as 125 military personnel took the extreme step to end their lives in 2016.
Replying to a question in Lok Sabha on Friday , minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre said 101 soldiers, 19 airmen and five sailors committed suicide last year, with another three cases of fratricide (to kill a fellow soldier or superior) being reported from the three services.
This year, 13 Army jawans have already committed suicide, while two such cases have been reported from the IAF. Soldiers posted in far-flung areas often undergo tremendous mental stress for not being able to take care of the problems being faced by their families back home, which could range from property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements to financial and marital problems, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Prolonged deployment in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the northeast also takes a toll on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers. All this is compounded by poor salaries, lack of basic amenities, denial of leave and ineffectual officer leadership.
Bhamre, on his part, stressed the government had taken various measures to prevent such incidents. “These include improvement in living and working conditions through provision of bet ter infrastructure and facilities, additional family accommodation, liberalised leave policy, establishing grievance redressal mechanism, conduct of yoga and meditation as part of the unit routine, etc,“ he said.
“A large number of officers have been trained to provide counselling to defence personnel and their families. Civilian psychological counsellors have also been employed to provide mental health services. Psychologists also visit units and formations from time to time to carry out counselling, individually and at times in groups,“ he added.
But a major problem that persists is that civil and police district administrations around the country are now largely unresponsive to the grievances of soldiers and their families, unlike before. “One of the biggest worries for jawans is the hardship their families face back home.With mobile phones, our jawans keep getting constant updates from their families, which adds to their mental stress and strain,“ said an officer.
Time scale officers
Feb 05 2015
`Let time-scale naval captains serve till 56'
In a series of judgments with wide implications for Service officers, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that the Navy cannot retire “timescale“ captains at the age of 54 when “selection-grade“ captains serve till 56. Citing a Supreme Court judgment, an AFT bench said the government could not permit two dates of retirement for persons working in the same rank.“Once a person is promoted as captain (time-scale), he has to perform all the duties of a captain and draws the same salary and allowance. Therefore, to hold him as a class different from a selection-grade captain would be discriminatory ,“ it said.
Holding that the principle has to apply across the board in all the armed forces, the AFT bench rejected the government's contention that time-scale captains could not hold certain appointmentsbillets, which are held only by selection-grade captains.
“We are afraid this contention cannot survive... What the apex court observed was that deployment remains the administrative prerogative of competent authority . If such a deployment involves any reduction in pay , allowances and other benefits, then it could be said that they are not at par with the captains (selection-grade),“ it said.
Several superseded naval officers have knocked on the doors of the AFT to be allowed to serve as timescale captains till the age of 56, with at least four of them winning their cases against the government till now.
It takes around 17-18 years for an officer to be promoted to the rank of a captain in the Navy , which is equivalent to a colonel in the Army . A superseded officer makes it to the captain rank (time-scale) in 26 years.
It is the first select grade promotion in the armed forces that has a steeply pyramidal promotional structure, with only around onethird of officers making it to the next rank at every stage.
Tribunals (Armed Forces)
Armed Forces Tribunals have powers similar to high courts and handle military related matters.
Women in the Armed Forces
Women officers in armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force, 2013-15
Indian Army and women
Army puts obstacles for women: SC
From the archives of The Times of India
The Supreme Court accused the Army of creating “artificial hurdles” for women officers while clearing decks for grant of permanent commission to Major Leena Gaurav, who was made to wait for six years despite passing a promotion test for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch. Dismissing the Union government’s appeal against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal favouring Major Gaurav, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Gyan Sudha Mishra said, “When it comes to absorbing lady officers you pose hurdles for them.”
AmitAnand Choudhary, March 18, 2020: The Times of India
Demolishing the Centre’s opposition to granting permanent commission to women naval officers in all cadres as “premised on sex stereotypes”, the Supreme Court quashed the government’s decision to restrict it to only specified branches, stressing on the need to overcome all such discrimination.
Exactly a month after the SC passed a verdict allowing command posting and permanent commission (PC) to women officers in Army, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi said gender discrimination cannot be allowed in the Navy on the “illusory” ground that male officers are more suited for certain duties by virtue of their physiological characteristics.
The court said engagement of women in the Navy had been lifted to the extent envisaged in the Centre’s notification of 1991 and 1998 and service of SSC officers, including women in regard to the grant of PCs is to governed by Regulation 203 which did not discriminate on the basis of gender. It brushed aside the contentions of the Centre that sailing in the Indian Navy is not a proper avocation for women and there were practical difficulties in granting PC to women officers due to various reasons, including absence of toilet facilities in certain class of ships, especially those of Russian origin.
“The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind. History is replete with examples where women have been denied their just entitlements under law and the right to fair and equal treatment in workplace. In the context of the Armed Forces, specious reasons have been advanced by decision-makers and administrators. They range from physiology, motherhood and physical attributes to the male-dominated hierarchies. A hundred and one excuses are no answer to the constitutional entitlement to dignity, which attaches to every individual irrespective of gender, to fair and equal conditions of work and to a level playing field,” it said. It said women officers have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in every walk of service and a level playing field must be ensured to allow them to overcome “histories of discrimination” based on their competence, ability and perfor mance.
Rajat Pandit, March 18, 2020: The Times of India
Many nations around the globe, including Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, deploy women on warships. Some like the US and France allow women to serve on board the cramped confines of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines as well.
After the Supreme Court judgment, which granted permanent commission to women officers in the Navy, India too will eventually have to look to follow suit. The Navy will have to get cracking on developing the requisite facilities to train and deploy women on warships, the absence of which has been used in the past to bar them from serving on board sea-faring vessels.
This is also directly connected to granting PC to women because “sea time” is mandatory for promotion to the rank of Captain (equivalent to Colonel in Army) in the Navy, except in a few branches like naval constructors and armament inspectors. Navy officers say the process will have to be gradual because it will pose administrative and operational challenges for the force. There will, for instance, have to be enough women volunteers who opt for the “tough life” on warships, which are usually sent on mission-based deployments for 70 to 90 days at a stretch.
At present, around 550 women among the over 10,000 officers in the Navy — which has 130 warships, 17 submarines and 235 planes, helicopters and drones — are restricted to what are called “shore-based billets and aircraft”. But the six brave women officers who circumnavigated the globe on sail boat INSV Tarini during the eight-month gruelling “Navika Sagar Parikrama” in 2017-2018 proved they are second to none in sea-going capabilities. The six got Nao Sena Medals for gallantry.
Necessary infrastructure will be another major prerequisite. “Except for some newer warships like the Shivalik-class frigates and Kolkata-class destroyers, the majority of our warships — mostly of Russian-origin — do not have separate bathroom, cabins and other facilities that can be used by women,” said a senior Navy officer. The new warships being ordered by the Navy are designed to cater for women officers, with separate cabins and bunks with attached bathrooms. “US warships, for instance, have separate areas or decks earmarked for women. In most of our warships, officers take bath in open toilets,” said an officer.
“Women officers who opt to serve on warships will also have to undergo courses in anti-submarine warfare, gunnery, communications and the like. Moreover, a minimum number of women will have to be posted together on every warship. Then, women doctors will also have to be ready to go to sea. All this will take time,” he added.
The Navy has progressively increased the avenues for women from three branches in 1992 to 11 non sea-going branches in 2019 but has kept them firmly away from warships, much like the Army has excluded them from combat arms like the infantry, mechanised forces and artillery. It was only recently the Navy began inducting women pilots in its maritime reconnaissance stream, with three women officers having got the “wings” to fly Dornier-228 aircraft as of now.
Defence services, India: legal and service issues
Defence services, India: personnel issues
Indian Navy: Personnel and service matters