NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday endorsed the government’s “command exit policy” for the Army aimed at placing younger officers in charge of combat and achieving optimal combat effectiveness as suggested by the Ajay Vikram Singh panel in the wake of the Kargil war.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph, also directed the government to create 141 additional vacancies for promotion of combat unit officers. The court partly allowed the appeals of the Ministry of Defence against the March 2015 order of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) which had quashed the Centre’s 2009 ‘command exit promotion’ policy on the ground that it violated Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
“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,” the court said and ruled that all army officers could not be treated as belonging to a single cadre as in the case of IAS or IPS.
The bench, however, agreed with the contention that the officers of arms support corps have been unfairly denied their dues in promotions. “Having given our anxious consideration to the submissions made at the bar, we are of the view that the additional 141 vacancies which ought to have been allocated to Arms Support in the year 2009 were unfairly denied to them. These vacancies shall, therefore, be taken to have been created as in the year 2009 and promotions against same made from out of officers who were eligible for such promotion as in that year,” it said.