Once bitten — following the controversy over the age of Army Chief V.K. Singh — the Defence Ministry is cautious on the issue of promotion to Army officers. It has sought the opinion of the Law Ministry on the Army awarding discretionary evaluation marks under a promotion policy to officers being considered for senior ranks.

Defence Ministry sources said the decision was taken after the Army sent a list of officers for promotion from Brigadiers to Majors General and Majors General to Lieutenants General based on the promotion boards held during October last with grading that includes discretionary marks.

Army sources said they were awaiting a decision which had been pending for over four months amid the possibility that some recommended officers would be entering the zone of retirement. As per rules, a Brigadier would have to retire on attaining the age of 56 and a Major General on reaching 58.

As per the evaluation marks policy, the collegium consisting of the Army Chief, the Vice-Chief and Army commanders has the discretion of awarding up to 5 marks to a candidate being considered for promotion while the rest 95 are quantified on the basis of work and achievements and other parameters during the service period.

Army sources said that while the evaluation marks had been in place for the last few years, including in the other two Services, the Defence Ministry had sought to question it. However, Ministry sources said that in the light of how the controversy over the date of birth of the Army Chief played out, the government is keen to ensure that everything is in black and white and there are no grey areas leading to litigation.