Sunday, January 22, 2012
NEXT ARMY JAG LANDS IN PROMOTION MESS
Even as the war for succession for the next Chief of Army Staff is still on, the Army's Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch has landed in a controversy over the next Judge Advocate General. The present JAG retires on January 31 but the one anointed to be the successor may not be able to take over because of a stay on his promotion by Kolkata bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).
Brig PS Rathore, currently serving as Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG) in South Western Command in Jaipur has been approved for the rank of Major General. But a petition against him is pending in the Kolkata AFT which had last month put a stay on his promotion. That stay order has not been vacated as yet. On top of that, the petitioner against Brig Rathore, Lt Col Mukul Dev, has filed a contempt application in the Kolkata AFT seeking action against the Army authorities for de-classifying Brig Rathore's promotion board result inspite of the stay order of the AFT.
The genesis of this mess lies some years back when Brig Rathore was serving as DJAG Central Command in Lucknow and Lt Col Dev was posted there as AJAG. To cut the story short, things were not good between them as one thing led to another, Lt Col Dev was shifted to a non-criteria appointment, a Part-II order was issued when, perhaps, it should not have been, and as a result of all this brouhaha a Court of Inquiry was ordered.
The CoI found several officers blameworthy, including Lt Col Dev and Brig Rathore. However, inexplicably, while Lt Col Dev got 'Severe Displeasure' from the Army Cdr, Brig Rathore did not get any punishment.
Lt Col Dev's promotion prospects got affected because he had not been adequately exercised when he had been moved away from the appointment of AJAG and then, of course, because of the punishment.
Consequently, he moved the AFT which passed the orders which have been enunciated above.
One would expect the JAG officers serving at senior appointments to be well-versed with the law so that such situations do not arise. But apparently, all is not well in the JAG Branch.
The JAG is also the principal legal advisor to the Army Chief. And with the present one retiring, the new one will not be at hand to help the Chief in any legal imbroglio of the organisation. Something for the Army Chief to chew on while he fights a personal legal battle over his date of birth.