The recent judgement of the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has once again laid bare the manner in which those who know how the system works are able to take advantage of it.
The shenanigans which take place in the MS branch has time and again been laid bare by the judicial system yet no measures have been taken to ensure that careers of officers are not harmed because of the loopholes in the branch.
I had some time back written a blog on this very issue pointing out how MS branch plays with the careers of officers.
Senior officers cannot escape the blame by pointing out the collusion of those down below the chain of command. The onus of seeing that the MS branch functions properly is not only with that of MS but also that of the Chief of Army Staff.
If deserving officers are losing out on promotions because of faults in the system then it is high time that the system is corrected. Else, the adverse effect on the morale of the officer cadre will someday be too obvious to ignore.
Given below is the time line of the case in hand pertaining to Brig T Parshad of the JAG branch and it lays bare the callousness with which deserving officers have got sidelined while he got all the favours.
May 2012 - One additional vacancy of Maj Gen in the JAG Branch announced taking the total vacancies of Maj Gen to two. There were now 4 contenders for the two vacancies out of which Brig T Parshad (Dy JAG Central Command) was the junior-most.
June 2012 - Brig T Parshad floats a statutory complaint stating that his ACRs should be expunged and he be granted relief in his career profile.
Sept 2012 - Selection Board for the rank of Maj Gen of JAG Branch was supposed to be held in Sept 2012 but is postponed.
15th Oct to 19th Oct 2012 – Selection Boards of various Arms and Services scheduled and Board for the two vacancies of Maj Gen in JAG Branch was supposed to be held on the second last day, that is, 18th Oct.
16th Oct 2012 - Out of the blue and totally out of turn, Brig T Parshad is given relief and his ACR as was challenged by him, is expunged. Normally the Army HQ/MoD take about 6 to 12 months to dispose statutory complaints related to ACRs but in this case, the same is done in about 4 months out of turn whereas complaints for redressal of many officers of various Arms and Services who had filed them much earlier than this officer were pending as on date and some remain pending even today.
17th Oct 2012 - The order granting relief to the officer is sent to the MS Branch on the eve of the selection board and the new career profile is inserted into the dossier and record of Brig T Parshad stealthily thereby improving his record to enable him steal a march over the others by shifting the goalposts of the selection. Over the day, evening and night, the records are changed whereas policy clearly provides that all records are supposed to be frozen 5 days prior to the Selection Board meaning thereby that records were to be frozen and could not be tampered with after 10th October 2012 (15th Oct was the first date of the Selection Board process). If we take the last date of the Board, that is, 19th Oct 2012, then the records were to be frozen by 14th Oct 2012, both dates are prior to the date on which even the relief was granted to the officer thereby rendering the inclusion of his changed profile in the board, illegal.
18th Oct 2012 - the Selection Board for the rank of Maj Gen of JAG is postponed by a day. The insertion of the changed profile of the officer is completed in a clandestine manner and the MDS (Master Data Sheet) is also illegally amended.
19th Oct 2012 – Selection Board is held and Brig N Khanna (the current ADG Litigation) and Brig T Parshad are empanelled for the rank of Maj Gen. As a result, Brig T Parshad, based on his freshly changed profile, supersedes his two seniors – Brig Dinkar Adeeb and Brig PK Sharma. The members of the Selection Board are however not informed that the profile and marks of Brig T Parshad were changed overnight in contravention of rules that too after granting him out of turn relief again in contravention of policy.
Points which emerge:-
(a) How could the policy letter No A/17151/MS 4 Coord dated 25/28 April 2009 (which provides that no inputs or change in profile can be taken on record 5 days prior to the board) be so brazenly contravened and flouted without any inkling to the military top brass or members of the board?
(b) How could the officer be granted out-of-turn relief in just about 4 months in contravention of policy letter No 04480/MS Policy dated 26 Sept 2005 whereas the cases of many other army officers remained pending for a period of more than 6 months to one year with some complaints not even being decided for years together.
(c) Is it a fact that since JAG officers are controlling major key appointments in the Army HQ including the Military Secretary’s branch (MS Branch) an element of manipulation, deceit and tampering of records and policy is creeping in especially in the case of JAG Branch? Why does the top military and ministry brass remain unaware of tampering and interference of records by JAG officers, is there no system of checks and balances or has nepotism encompassed the entire system?
(d) Similar flouting of policy and manipulation in the selection board for the rank of Brig was pointed out to the AFT by officers of the JAG branch after which the MoD took suo-moto action and cancelled the board and ordered its re-convening. (Also Recorded in an earlier Court order) thereby giving relief to affected officers, why weren’t checks and balances introduced at that time.
(e) Many petitions concerning nepotism in the JAG Branch remain pending before various benches of AFT, has the system taken note of the allegations and ordered any inquiry or corrective measures?
(f) What message are the seniors who are indulging in flouting of policy and rules and manipulation giving to young officers of the organisation? Jiski laathi uski bhains? Is this the future of the younger generation, especially of the JAG Branch?