The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has quashed the elevation of Brigadier T. Prashad as head of the Judge Advocate General (JAG), top appointment in the Army’s judicial and legal wing, on the ground that there were serious irregularities in the Selection Board (SB) held last August that approved the officer’s promotion to Major General.
The AFT set aside the promotion board that approved Brigadier Prashad’s elevation as Major General, after it was proved that new inputs on the service record of the officer were included much after the time line given for such inclusion in selection boards.
The new input for Brigadier Prashad related to relief granted by the Ministry of Defence to his statutory complaint on adverse annual confidential reports (ACRs) of previous years that were expunged. According to rules in force, all records pertaining to the officers being considered for selection to higher ranks are frozen five days prior to the date of meeting of the SB.
In the case of Brigadier Prashad, the order expunging his adverse ACRs was of October 16, 2012 and the SB, which considered the case of four brigadiers for promotion, was scheduled to meet on October 18. The proceedings were postponed by a day and when it met, the Board, after taking into consideration the relief granted to Brigadier Prashad on his adverse ACRs, approved his promotion to the next rank.
The AFT has said, “making the selection after considering the redressal to Brigadier Prashad is inappropriate as per the policy of the MS branch.” Initially, there was only one vacancy for a Major General in the JAG branch, but in May last year, the government created an additional vacancy. The SB of October 19, therefore, met to fill two vacancies for which four brigadiers of the 1981 batch were considered on the basis of their existing record and comparative merit.
When Brigadier Prashad, most junior Brigadier was selected, he was also tipped to be the JAG by virtue of having more residual service than his peer.
The matter was taken to the AFT by Brigadier Dinkar Adeeb and Brigadier P.K. Sharma, who in their petition said the SB of October 19 was “done illegally, hastily, with a mala fide intent to grant undue advantage to one particular officer.”
Brigadier Prashad was granted “relief on the eve of the SB and that too by postponing the SB repeatedly… and shifting the goalposts,” said the petition. He was granted relief in his career profile/ACR(s) on the eve of the SB “totally out of turn in undue haste,” it added.
The SB was then postponed by a day to October 19 and Brigadier Prashad was declared empanelled for the rank of Major General. That he was “granted relief in such a clandestine post in a haste manner leaves no manner of doubt that he otherwise would have not made it to the next rank but for his changed profile,” the petition said.