Delivering a sharp rap on the knuckles for not adhering to a judgement given by it and causing undue harassment to a petitioner, the Kolkata bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the Military Secretary, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain to express regret to the petitioner.
Giving its directions in a contempt application field by Col Arun Dattaji Patole (retd), naming the Military Secretary, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain and the Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh as respondents, the AFT bench has also come down very hard on the Col MS (Legal) for not taking the matter seriously. The bench has found his attitude to be "callous" and recommended action against him by higher authorities, if they so desire.
The genesis of the order lies in an order given by the bench earlier directing the MS to hold a special promotion board of the officer to the rank of Brigadier and intimate the result to him with complete reasoning. He was also directed to provide a personal hearing to the Colonel if he was not satisfied with the reply.
The Army did hold a special promotion board but communicated its result in a perfunctory manner without giving any detailed reasoning:
"I. Ref WP 15548(W)|2OO3 filed by you in the High Court at Kolkata.
2 . Consequent to the relief granted by Kolkata High Court in WP 1,5548-w/2003 vide order dated 2 Feb 2, you were considered as Special Revielw (Fresh) case of the 1971 batch of AOC by the No. 2 SB held from 06 to 0B Apr 2011, under the previous system of selection (value judgement) and not approved for promotion to the acting rank of Brig."
When the officer reminded the MS of the directions of the AFT bench and that he wanted an interview with him he received an arrogant reply which bordered on dismissive attitude:
" In case you want to have personal hearing you must intimate the date so that date is fixed and case be
explained about non empanelment along with the reasons as directed by the Hon'ble Armed Forces
Tribunal. lt is clarified that you have to come on at your own expenses for the said interview, as no funds are allocated for calling retired officers for personal hearing."
Clearly, not pleased with the action taken by the MS Branch in pursuance of the orders given by it, the Bench passed the following hard-hitting order.
"We direct that MS, during his visits to various Command HQs. including Pune and Kolkata (where
the appricant usualy resides) must intimate the applicant and grant all possible facilities to give him a personal hearing in which all aspects must be explained to him in detail within the limits of security. The applicant should be apprised as to why he was low on merit and whether ail points that were to be covered
have indeed been covered while considering his case in the special board. subsequent to such a personal hearing, it will only be appropriate for the MS on behalf of the respondents to express regret to the war veteran for the delay and agony thus caused. Thereafter, the MS shall pass a speaking order in writing explaining the detairs of the interview and the reasons for non-empanelment of the applicant in the special
board that was conducted on the order of this Tribunal".