The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the alleged lapses which were made as grounds to impose disciplinary ban on Army Vice Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag by then Army Chief V K Singh between April and May 2012 were “premeditated”, “vague” and “illegal”.
Gen Singh, who is a now Minister of State in the NDA government having the Development of North Eastern Region, External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs as his portfolios, had placed Lt Gen Suhag under a Disciplinary and Vigilance (DV) ban.
The ban was imposed on Lt Gen Suhag for alleged “failure of command and control” in an operation carried out by an intelligence unit working directly under him when he was working as the then Dimapur-based 3 Corps commander.
In its last days in office, the UPA-II government had named Lt Gen Suhag as the Army Chief to succeed incumbent Gen Bikram Singh when he retires on July 31.
The Ministry of Defence, in a recent affidavit filed in the apex court registry, has said, “The alleged lapses observed by the then COAS, as reflected in show cause notice, were premeditated and issued in utter disregard to the legal provisions governing the court of inquiry, principles of natural justice… the lapses were vague, based on presumptions and legally and factually not maintainable.”
“Evidently, the entire exercise to issue show cause notice was premeditated and as per records, the directions issued in this regard, including imposition of the DV ban and issue of show cause notice were found to be illegal,” it said.
The affidavit has been filed in response to a plea of Lt Gen Ravi Dastane alleging favouritism in the selection of Lt Gen Suhag as the Army commander who will succeed the Army Chief.
Lt Gen Suhag’s promotion as Army commander was cleared by Gen Bikram Singh soon after V K Singh retired. The ban was also lifted.
The affidavit said, “Once the imposition of the DV ban itself was found to be illegal, then the same would be non est ab initio (nullity from the inception) and it cannot in any manner come in the way of either the consideration or appointment of Suhag.”
The apex court will hear the case in September.