The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on May 30 the pleas inculding the one filed by the Centre challenging an Armed Force Tribunal (AFT) order demoting an officer of the rank of Lt General to Brigadier for allegedly misrepresenting facts and imposing a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the Defence Ministry and the Army.
The plea challenging the Tribunal’s order was mentioned before a vacation bench of Justices P C Pant and D Y Chandrachud by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. The court agreed to hear it on May 30.
Rohatgi said that the order was passed on a review plea by the Tribunal and a gross injustice would happen if the matter is not heard urgently as the officer concerned is also due to retire on May 31.
On May 13, the AFT had ordered that Lt Gen N K Mehta from the Army Ordnance Corps, who had been elevated to the rank of Lieutenant General few months ago, be demoted to the rank of Brigadier, two rungs below the current rank, with immediate effect for misrepresenting facts before the selection board.
The tribunal has also imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the Union of India and Rs 5 lakh on the officer, which shall be remitted to the Army Central Welfare Fund for the welfare of troops.
The tribunal has held that the promotion of Lt Gen Mehta from the rank of Brigadier to Major General on the basis of a previous AFT order was not tenable due to concealment of facts from the court.
The tribunal has also faulted the Ministry of Defence for its alleged acts of omission and commission in the selection process and had said that it would be open to the government to hold an inquiry and proceed in accordance with law against the persons, who were responsible for the unfair practice in the Ministry of Defence or in the Army.
It has suggested that the MoD should further tone up its working so that unauthorised officers should not have access to the ministerial staff or other officials in the MoD, all decisions taken by the Selection Board may be screened by a committee of experts in law.
( Source – PTI )