NEW DELHI: Army has told the Delhi High Court that the colonel couple, who had challenged their postings to two different locations, cannot be placed at the same place due to "operational situation along the borders", "organizational interest" and paucity of such senior officers in the JAG department.
However, the stand of the Military Secretary Branch, has been opposed by the two senior officers' whose counsel has claimed that the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department was trying to "misguide" the court by using terms like "border situation" and organizational interest" as "smokescreens".
In an affidavit filed in the high court, the Military Secretary Branch -- which comes under the Defence Ministry -- has said that as directed by the high court the plea moved by Colonel Amit Kumar challenging his posting was considered as a representation and a decision was taken on September 30 to deny his request for posting him and his wife together.
By two separate posting orders of May 15, Col Amit Kumar and his wife -- Col Annu Dogra -- were posted to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Bathinda (Punjab), respectively, from their current office at Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon on September 15 had asked the Army to treat the plea as a representation and the decision be communicated to the court before the next date of hearing on October 20.
The high court had also put on hold the postings of the two officers till then.
Informing the court about its decision, the Military Secretary Branch, has said that the two senior officers can only be posted together in New Delhi but it cannot be done as the JAG department presently only has 23 Colonels as against an authorized strength of 40 and static headquarters (HQs), like New Delhi, are at lower priority than field formations when postings are being considered.
It said that posting the couple at New Delhi "will be at the cost of maintaining voids at formation HQs, which is not in organizational interest".
"Diversion of posting of the officer and his wife to Delhi will lead to critical voids in HQ Andaman and Nicobar Command and HQ 10 Corps and is against the organizational interest, especially in view of the present operational situation along the borders," the affidavit states.
The Military Secretary Branch has also said that the post at Andaman and Nicobar HQ is a Tri Services Command which is an important appointment and therefore, demands posting of an experienced officer.
Refuting the claims, advocate Sunil J Mathews, who represents the two officers, told PTI that "the JAG department has resorted to several falsehoods in the reply filed and the use of terms such as 'border situation' and 'organizational interest' are smokescreens aimed at misguiding the court from seeing the clear orchestrated victimization of the Colonel couple to keep them out of New Delhi at all costs and at the same time favour certain sycophantic officers."
"It is very disappointing to note how this case is being fought by the JAG department which is with falsehood and dishonor.....A detailed reply is being prepared to the Army's affidavit to negate their contentions with proper evidence," he said.
In its reply, the Military Secretary Branch, has also said that since the couple's marriage in 2008, they have been given three spouse coordinated postings on their requests and "all out efforts were made to post both of them in the same station".
"Presently, we have an operational situation, which includes high security at all levels including HQ Andaman and Nicobar Command. At this crucial stage, it is the duty of all of us who have been nurtured by our organization, to strengthen the hands of our officers and men along the borders," the affidavit said.
Col Kumar, in his plea, has said that he had requested the Army in August for reconsideration of his date of movement and also leave of 30 days to attend the "piping ceremony of his wife", and secure the relocation of his family, which included his aged parents and minor son, to Bhatinda.
However, his requests were denied, the petition has said and added that the decision taken to transfer them without considering their preferences was in violation of the laid down policy and standard operating procedure regarding posting of senior officers.
His petition has alleged that the decision to transfer him and his wife to far off locations has been taken as he had filed a statutory complaint against the JAG, Indian Army as well as Deputy JAG, Headquarters Southern Command, Pune.
He has contended that the two senior officers allegedly influenced the said posting orders.
Col Kumar, in his petition, has said that since his requests were denied he has been forced to put up his papers for voluntary premature retirement "despite an unblemished and stellar service".