New Delhi, February 15
The Supreme Court today endorsed the government’s command exit policy for promotions in the Army in order to reduce the age profile of commanding officers and achieve optimal combat effectiveness, as suggested by The Ajay Vikram Singh committee in the light of the 1999 Kargil war.
“There is nothing perverse, unreasonable or unfair about the policy that the age of officers serving in combat arms and combat arms support will be lowered by creating additional vacancies to be allotted on command exit model,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph ruled in a 58-page judgment.
The court delivered the verdict on appeals by the Centre challenging the Armed Forces Tribunal’s March 2, 2015, order quashing the government’s January 20, 2009, policy circular.
Citing the lower age profiles of commanding officers in Japan, China and Pakistan, the government had sought to ensure quicker promotions for such officers in combat arms and combat arms support in India by creating additional posts for them. The affected officers in other units had gone to the AFT, challenging the circular.
The SC ruled that all Army officers could not be treated as belonging to a single cadre as in the case of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or the Indian Police Service (IPS). While hearing the appeals, the court had framed a question: “Do officers serving in arms and arms support services constitute a single cadre?”
“We have no difficulty in answering the question in the negative and holding that officers in service streams do not constitute a single cadre with those serving in arms and arms support for purposes of allocation of additional vacancies created pursuant to the recommendations made to the government by the AV Singh committee,” the Bench said.
As a result, it refused to accept the contention of the affected officers that the policy had denied them their “legitimate expectation for batch parity”.
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