Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | October 26, 2020 3:49:04 am
Other members were swayed and awarded low VJ marks to the Brigadier, thus putting him out of contention. (Representational)
The indiscriminate manner in which Value Judgement (VJ) marks are awarded in Army promotions has once again come to light, with an Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) judgement revealing that a Brigadier almost lost out on promotion to the rank of Major General after a selection board awarded him low VJ marks over allegations of domestic violence and extramarital affairs, which were later found to be false.
A maximum of five marks out of 100 are allotted for VJ in the selection board for promotions in the Army, while the remaining 95 are quantified through other parameters like courses attended etc. Amidst tough competition, it is often VJ marks which become the deciding factor.
The selection board in question was evaluating 24 Brigadiers for six vacancies in the rank of Major General in the Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (EME) corps in 2018. The board comprised the then Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat as chairman and Vice Chief of Army Staff and all General Officers Commanding-in-Chief as members.
During the course of discussion over each candidate, one board member mentioned the allegations of domestic violence and extra-marital affairs against a Brigadier by his wife.
The other members were swayed and awarded low VJ marks to the Brigadier, thus putting him out of contention. The move benefitted another Brigadier, who moved up one position and was hence recommended for promotion.
When the proceedings of the selection board were put up to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), this anomaly was noticed by officials. The ministry asked the Army headquarters to provide evidence of the allegations made against the officer and any action taken against him.
It was then revealed that no Court of Inquiry has been held against the Brigadier and that a pseudonymous complaint had been made against him with no evidence. It further came to light that the wife of the officer had also given a written statement that she had never filed a complaint against him. The MoD came to the conclusion that the pseudonymous complaint was made to negatively affect the chances of promotion of the officer by misleading the selection board. Consequently, despite the selection board not changing its recommendation, the MoD changed the result of the board — the Brigadier was approved for promotion and the officer who had jumped up one place was not approved.
The entire sequence of events came to light when the officer who missed out on promotion due to MoD changing the result of the selection board moved the AFT, demanding that he be promoted. The AFT’s principal bench in New Delhi upheld the decision of the MoD and dismissed the officer’s petition earlier this month.
In a judgment in February, the Supreme Court had ruled that an officer cannot be overlooked for empanelment for higher rank only on the basis of the VJ marks. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta on February 11 ordered a fresh promotion selection board to be held for two retired Brigadiers for the rank of Major General. The bench had disagreed with government counsel’s contention that deference should be shown to the selection board’s decision as it comprised senior Army officers.
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