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Supreme Court Quashes Appointment of Army Medical Services Chief

A bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan remitted back the matter to the Defence Minister and expressed the hope that it would be considered with "utmost objectivity" and a decision would be taken within a week.

PTI

Updated:August 2, 2018, 10:36 PM IST
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Supreme Court Quashes Appointment of Army Medical Services Chief
File photo of the Supreme Court of India.
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has quashed the appointment of Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chopra as Director General of Medical Services (Army) saying "proper and valid consideration" was not done while applying the criteria of seniority and suitability for his appointment.

A bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan remitted back the matter to the Defence Minister and expressed the hope that it would be considered with "utmost objectivity" and a decision would be taken within a week.

The bench also said that the direction of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which too had quashed Chopra's appointment, to straightaway appoint Major General Ganguly as the DGMS (Army) was not proper.

"We remit the case back to the Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister). We repose full faith in the Raksha Mantri and are confident that she would consider the entire matter in a totally dispassionate manner, with utmost objectivity and depicting total fairness," the bench said.

"Keeping in view that the post is lying vacant for some time and also that time is running out insofar as the respondent (Major General Manomoy Ganguly) is concerned, we direct the appellants (Centre) to place the matter before the Raksha Mantri forthwith, with no loss of time, and are hopeful that the decision shall be taken within a week," the bench added.

The AFT had also earlier quashed the appointment of the Lt General as the Director General Medical Services (DGMS) on Ganguly's plea, holding that his selection as DGMS (Army) was arbitrary and discriminatory.

The AFT had set aside the findings of the Review Promotion Board of Maj. Gen Ganguly in March 2017 which had not found him sufficiently high in merit for the rank of Lt General. It had also directed the authorities to appoint him to the post.

However, the apex court bench said that the direction of AFT to straightaway appoint Major General Ganguly as the DGMS (Army) was not proper.

"We are conscious about the apprehensions of the AFT, which may not unfounded altogether. However, since we have not agreed with the conclusion of the AFT that the appointment to the post of DGMS (Army) is not based on seniority alone, it may not be proper to uphold such a direction of the AFT," it said.

The AFT in its order had noted that there was some attempt in denying the Maj. Gen Ganguly his claim for promotion to the rank of Lt. General and hence directed to appoint him to the post.

Earlier, the apex court had issued notice on a plea of the Centre challenging the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) order restraining it from filling up the post of Director General Medical Services (Army).

A vacation bench had took note of the appeal of the Ministry of Defence against the order of the tribunal restraining it to fill up the post of DGMS (Army) by an officer of its choice.

The Attorney General, appearing for the Ministry of Defence, assailed the AFT order and said that the Army worked on "certain principles" and seniority alone cannot be the sole criteria for selection of an officer as the DGMS (Army).

Seniority and suitability are to be considered at the time of appointment, the AG had said, adding, "Army decides. They have principles. The post in question is of a nature where extensive experience is must, as the job is to ensure spontaneous medical facility on the war front. Someone without adequate experience cannot be considered."

Earlier, Ganguly had moved the AFT alleging that rules had been flouted in the proceedings of the board and consequently he had not been approved for the higher rank despite being eligible.

He had averred in his petition before the AFT that his non-empanelment for the rank of Lieutenant General in his Review Special Promotion Board in the Army Medical Corps was due to low figurative assessment in the board, comprising Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Naval Staff.
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