Former chiefs of naval staff, Admiral L Ramdas and Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, have filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the naming of Lt General Bikram Singh as the next Army chief. The government had on March 2 declared Lt Gen Singh, who currently heads the Army’s eastern command, as Gen VK Singh’s successor.
Now, he is is likely to face a fresh challenge as former chiefs of naval staff, along with a host of former bureaucrats, filed a public interest litigation in the apex court, challenging his appointment.
The PIL alleged that Bikram Singh was involved in a fake encounter in 2001. The court is yet to admit the petition, which alleges that Lt Gen Singh failed to act against officers involved in sexual harassment and rape when they were posted in Congo in 2008 as part of the UN peace-keeping mission.
Listing a host of allegations, they said Lt Gen Singh was not fit to command the 1.3 million-Indian Army and instead, the present incumbent, Gen VK Singh should be allowed to continue. Admiral Ramdas, who has been publicly supporting the present Army chief, is behind the petition, along with former bureaucrats like MG Devashyam and former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswamy. The petition was filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who has been behind several similar petitions along with Prashant Bhushan for decades.
The PIL alleges that the Singh’s promotion has been influenced by extra-meritorious considerations.
In March 2001, a 60-year-old man was killed in an encounter by the Army on the outskirts of Anantnag in Kashmir. Lt Gen Singh was then a Brigadier heading the 1 Sector Rashtriya Rifles, headquartered in Anantnag.
He was injured in the encounter and was given a gallantry medal. A colonel and another jawan were killed in the firing between the two sides. The Army claimed that the man, who was killed, was a wanted foreign militant. His family argued in court that Abdullah Bhat was a daily-wage earner.
The PIL also questioned Lt Gen Bikram Singh’s appointment as the petitioners allege “manipulations” by the present government at the Centre to bring him to the top position in the Army in complete disregard to the national interest.
If admitted for hearing, legal experts feel, a judgment in this law suit would have salutary effect on the selection of top ranking army officers who are nurtured to head one of the largest armies in the world.
-via Daily Bhaskar