Top Army medical post is now like a game of ‘musical chairs’

Top Army medical post is now like a game of ‘musical chairs’

In the past 34 months—since July 2017—there have been eight Lieut General rank doctors, who have been appointed to the post of DGMS Army.

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8

For nearly the last three years, the post of Director General Medical Services (Army)—the senior-most doctor in-charge of the health of 13 lakh Army personnel—has shifted between officers like a game of ‘musical chairs’.

The other two services—the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy—also have similar posts. The three have a common boss—the DG Armed Forces Medical Service (DGAFMS).

In the past 34 months—since July 2017—there have been eight Lieut General rank doctors, who have been appointed to the post of DGMS Army. The latest one—Lt Gen AK Hooda—who took over on April 2, became the third incumbent in past 10 months—since June 1, 2019. His predecessor—Lt Gen RS Grewal—started his tenure on November 1, 2019, and handed over the charge five months later. Lt Gen A Banerji started his tenure on June 1, 2019, and got promoted as DGAFMS end October.

During 2017-2018—for a period of nine months—the post even had an ‘Officiating’ DGMS Army.

Sources said a proposal to have fixed tenure for a minimum of one year as DG is awaiting clearance with the Principal Personnel Officer's Committee (PPOC), a body of the three armed forces.

A senior functionary said the problem is due to a policy according to which an officer can be in the rank of Lt General (or equivalent in IAF and Navy) for only two years of his career or till he attains the age of 61—the retirement age for medical officers. There is no such tenure cap in fighting arms as officers are in the Lt General rank for 5-6 years.

A doctor in the rank of Lt General works on other posts before becoming the DG. By the time the turn comes only for a few months of his two-year tenure remain. A way out of this situation is to retire doctors at 61 years of age instead of sending them home after being Lt Gen for two years.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces Tribunal directed that the seniority principle be followed to appoint the DGMS. The concept of having a fixed tenure was not be considered and the Army then got down to following the AFT directions while the policy-framing to amend the anomaly is pending at PPOC.

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