M A I N   N E W S

Masand gets rank of Air Marshal
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 4
Air Vice-Marshal Harish Masand, who was denied promotion allegedly due to his differences with former Air chief S. Krishnaswamy in 2003, today finally got justice as the Supreme Court put its seal of approval on his promotion to the rank of Air Marshal against a specially created post after the court’s intervention.

After Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati told a Bench of Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice P.P. Naolekar that the Prime Minister had given his approval to a specially-created “supernumerary” post to accommodate Air Marshal Masand, the court put its seal of approval in an interim order on his reinduction in the Air Force for a period of two years that would expire on January 31, 2006.

Air Marshal Masand had retired on January 31 last year after his promotion claim was rejected by a Special Promotion Board, headed by the then Air chief Krishnaswamy in February 2003 by reducing his board assessment marks after making a change of the marking scheme. On being promoted, he was entitled to two years more service.

The fresh promotion board constituted on the orders of the apex court, had found that Air Marshal Masand, in fact, ranked number one in the promotion list, following which the court had ordered to take him back in service. The Defence Ministry had consequently agreed to create a “supernumerary” post in the IAF to accommodate him subject to its approval by the government.

The apex court, however, declined to pass any interim order in the case of another Air Vice-Marshal T.S. Chhatwal, saying that even after fresh assessment of his ranking he stood at number nine of the promotion list.

Air Marshal Masand, initially had got relief from the Delhi High Court, which had quashed the promotions of four other AVMs on his and Air Marshal Chhatwal’s petitions against which the Defence Ministry had filed an appeal in the apex court. The apex court, however, admitted the appeal for hearing, saying the entire issue, including the case of Air Marshal Chhatwal, would needed to be examined.

“We are of the view that it is not possible to order promotion of Air Marshal Chhatwal as an interim measure…but the matter will be examined in the appeal,” the court observed.


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