Friday, December 23, 2011

HOW MS BRANCH PLAYS WITH CAREERS OF OFFICERS


It has been known for a while now that all is not well in the Military Secretary's (MS) branch. It has been suspected for some time now that wrapped in secrecy, despite tall claims of transparency, the MS branch utilises the opaqueness to play with careers of officers. Why and at whose bidding, it is not known. But it may vary from case to case. And now it stands utterly and totally exposed. By none other than the Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal.

The bench of Justice AK Mathur, Chairperson of the Tribunal and the administrative member, Lt Gen SS Dhillon, have blown the lid off one of the worst kept secrets in the Indian Army. That all is not well in the MS Branch and a comprehensive review of how it functions is the need of the hour.

The scathing indictment of the most important branch of the Indian Army, as far as the officer cadre's career is concerned, came as a result of a petition filed by a Brigadier of the Corps of Engineers. Brig VG Gole, of June 1979 seniority, was shocked when he found out that he had not been empanelled for promotion in the selection board held for the rank of Major General in late 2010. As an officer who had been getting consistently good ACRs, he could not fathom why he was not selected.
And then he found out the reason. To his shock he came to know that the IO portion of his most recent ACR has been effaced, or removed from records in the selection process, as a result of which he fell back in the comparative merit. Why? Because of the following explanation given by the respondents when he filed a case in the AFT:

"A reply has been filed by the respondents contesting the position and took resort to a policy decision at Para 137 of Army Order 45/2001/MS which gives them power to efface the assessment if it is found that the ACR of the incumbent is grossly inconsistent or with inflationary/deflationary/ subjective reporting. This effacing could be done after due approval of the Chief of Army Staff. In this case, the ACR was found grossly inconsistent, therefore, IO’s
assessment was expunged after approval of the Chief of Army Staff".


When the bench called for the records to see if this was true, they found out that this was not so. The decision to efface had been made arbitrarily. The bench found out that:


"We called upon the respondents to produce the original record before us and after perusing the record, we are constrained to observe that the powers exercised by the respondents is arbitrary. We have seen the ACR record of the petitioner from 2006 to 2010 and we find that during this period
he has earned seven ACRs and has not secured less than 8 marks in any of the qualities mentioned in the ACR. We also found that the IO’s assessment in the ACR from January, 2009 to June, 2009 has been totally effaced. We do not know how much marks were given by the IO but at least we have seen the RO’s assessment in which petitioner was given 8 marks in 5 qualities while in the remaining 12 qualities he has obtained 9 marks. Subsequently, even in the ACR from July, 2009 to November, 2009 he has received almost 8 or 9 marks. From February, 2010 to June, 2010, we find that petitioner has again secured 8 & 9 marks in all the qualities. The explanation given by the respondents is hardly satisfactory. Learned counsel for the respondents has produced before us a minute sheet to justify their stand, but we regret to say that it is a totally arbitrary and if we may say malafide in law also".


The bench found that there was room for investigating into how and why the officer's career had been adversely affected. They asked for the officer responsible to be pinpointed and ordered that the Brigadier be considered afresh for promotion notwithstanding his impending retirement and also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the respondents.

"It speaks volumes that such kind of illegality can be committed against an officer. This is a serious matter and we are constrained to observe that it requires deeper consideration by the higher authority and they should pinpoint the officer responsible who has played foul thereby affecting the career of the officer. We allow this petition and expunge the effacing of the ACR of the petitioner for the period from January, 2009 to June, 2009 given by the IO. The marks should be restored back and petitioner should be reconsidered for promotion to the post of Maj Gen in accordance with rules. The impending retirement will not come in the way of consideration of the petitioner for promotion to the post of Maj Gen. The petition is allowed with cost of Rs 10,000".

If this is how the MS branch functions and if this is how the Chief of Army Staff goes about rubber stamping the illogical and illegal decisions of MS branch put up to him, then it paints a sad picture indeed of the Army hierarchy. How many such cases may have gone unnoticed in the past? What about the time when the AFT was not there? Such cases would drag on and on and the officer's career be marred for ever by the time he got relief, if any. Criminal, to say the least.

The officer holding the Military secretary's appointment at the time when this particular case took place is answerable to the entire officer cadre of the Army. He should be held responsible and action taken against him for such illegal action. And Chiefs of Army Staff must sign on the dotted line with their eyes open. Regimental loyalties must not come in the way of being fair to those who serve under the COAS. To say the last.

14 comments:

  1. This is not a new news. While selecting present director aviation Corp. the finanacial illigalities of claiming flying allownce though pointed out by pcda(o) were just not placed before the Board or they were not taken care off. even now the officer has not refunded illegaly claimed flying allonce to the Govt for which he was not entitled while serving in AHQ on a post not tenable by the aviators

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  2. indeed a sad picture of military heirarchy. quality has deteriorated, these guys are no longer soldiers...they are salary and status hunters. and i hate that bull about making sacrifices...well they chose this profession and if they have chosen it, do justice to it. its a voluntary army...so please think before volunteering...and once you have volunteered you got to bloody well do the job well. dont make excuses and recite sob stories about sacrifices. its all part of the game. play it or quit it.

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  3. Maj Gen (Retd) K KhoranaDecember 23, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    To say that MS Branch functioning is totally warped would be uncharitable.
    On promotions, mostly the system is fair. System provides for arbitration and rectification. Now we have the AFT for speedy dispensation of justice. However the system was never overly worried about investigation and retribution to those who wilfully 'spoil' someone's career.
    Postings is another matter. Most officers want 'home postings' or at places where they can educate their children. But that is well nigh impossible. Ofcourse many a postings are dispensed as favours, either on personal basis or on 'sifarish'. However, MS Branch is quite sensitive to 'request postings' through proper channel to officers when in distress.
    A great concern would arise if people were able to "buy" or "sell" posting/promotions; or manipulate the system to gain advantage over others. That should call for thorough investigation, followed up by severe action against those found guilty.

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  4. With all this in open, Do you think a superseeded officer like me should trust the system even for a second.

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  5. A good blog. Keep it up. The armed forces are the last bastion of the nation, relatively unaffected by the ills of society. It is good that any deviances are pointed out. It is good for the health of the organisation.

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  6. Yes, I was empanelled for promotion to the rank of Brig during Sep/OCT 1995 along with 44course Arty officers.At that time the retirement age of a full Col was 52 years.on 30 sep 1996 Iwas superannuated in the rank of a col at the age of 52 with lot of heart burn on the plea that there are are no vacancies.
    A brigs employability is for the whole Indiann Army as there are many vacancies tenable by Brigs and could have posted some where in the rank of brig in any place tenable by a brig.I have seen an arty Col who was approved with me was promoted bynot promoting his seniors who got age in their favours which they could have done in my case also.But didnt and the arty officer promoted out of turn retired as LT GEN.
    CAN ANY ONE TELL ME IS IT CORRECT.BEFORE RETIRING THEY COULD HAVE CONSIDERED THE VCANCIES OF THE WHOLE INDIAN ARMY as on 30 sep 1996 and has the CDA paid the salary of the authorised no of Brig for the entire army on that particular date. can someone rake up this issue please.
    Thanks velayudhan

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  7. COAS has been burdened with approving too many cases. Any sane person can not do justice with so numerous responsibilities. Thus, he is compelled to rubber-stamp notings of his subordinates. The system needs a revamp.

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  8. This is true, things in army are not going as they should be, everyone knows this. To tell my story, i was written off cos i refused to pay Rs 30k to my CO. Which he said were asked by superior officer. As far as I was conerned the money was for repair of equipment and my Para khalsa CO wanted to trade it for his ACR. These things are very common now and anybody going up, I am sure is doing it after sacrificing his self respect.

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    1. i was asked 10 k but i refused this guy gave me all 8 ACR lets see what happens to me in my first SB

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  9. the system is designed to benefit a few

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  10. what about wrong fixation of rank for pension.I get a pension of a Major whereas I retired as Lt Col..
    AG Br confirms last rank held Lt Col whereas MS Br is confirming me as substantive Maj and not an A Lt Col. who do I contact

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  11. Due to wrong fixation of rank by MS Br I recieve pension of Major and not Lt Col.My rank as Lt Col is confirmed by AG Br with authority, but MS branch does not see this and they show me substantive Major.Have been going up and down.Can anyone guide me.I was commissioned in 1971 and retired in 1991.Last rank held was Lt Col.

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    Replies
    1. any pt 2 order or gazzette will prove through aft/court case

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