6:40 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Petition Challenging New Army Chief’s Appointment

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Red beacons only for high statutory offices, rules SC
Red beacons only for high statutory offices, rules SC

New Delhi – The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that challenges the appointment of Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the Indian Army’s new chief.

Lieutenant General Suhag is scheduled to take over as army commander on August 1, after General Bikram Singh retires.

But another senior office, Lieutenant General Ravi Dastane, has said that the new army chief’s selection is mired in “favouritism”.

The top court said today that it will hear his petition next month.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told Parliament earlier this month that the appointment of Lieutenant General Suhag was final. His assertion came after the government was left embarrassed by one of its ministers – former army chief General VK Singh – tweeting against the Army Chief-designate, linking him of supporting “dacoity” by an army unit that once worked under him.

While he was army chief, General VK Singh had tried to block his promotion, and after becoming a minister, he has publicly and aggressively defended his actions.

The disciplinary action he had taken against Lieutenant General Suhag, blaming him for a botched intelligence operation in the North East, has been cited in Lieutenant General Dastane’s case against the army chief-designate.

His petition was first heard by the Armed Forces Tribunal, which functions as a court that handles disputes over appointments and which concluded that the allegations against Lieutenant General Suhag, levelled by General VK Singh, were incorrect.

That same assessment was repeated by the government in the Supreme Court in a recent hearing, prompting the opposition Congress to demand the removal of General VK Singh as a minister. The party said that the government’s stand in court amounted to a “vote of no confidence” in its minister.

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