His is a fight spread over nearly 16 years — not in the battlefield, but in the court of law. And the same bench of Supreme Court justices that the Army Chief’s date of birth petition dismissed a petition by city- based Colonel (retd) Vinay B Dalvi on Tuesday, putting an end to this marathon struggle. What it certainly put on the discussion forum, though, is promotions in the Army, a topic that has occupied much of media space in the recent past.
Dalvi case dates back to 1996. “We were three Lt colonels in the Army Physical Training Corps (APTC) — a fed corps — with officers from different arms. All three of us belonged to 1971 batch of IMA. Interestingly, in the earlier selection boards, all three of us were promoted from the ranks of Major to Lt Col, so abilities were undisputed. The APTC has limited opportunities as it is a smaller corps. When the boards for promotion from Lt Col to Colonel were held, none of the three got promoted. The reason given was that we were dropped due to comparative merit, which meant that somebody else was found better than us. Interestingly, it was only three of us who were competing and all three were dropped, so this argument of comparative merit seemed unconvincing. We would have been convinced had even one of us been promoted,” said Dalvi.
Further queries within the organisation by the three revealed that they were rejected in a bid to create space for an officer junior to the three, promoting whom could have become impossible had any one of the three been made Colonel. “He also had close ties in the power corridors, which was revealed later,” said Dalvi.
While the other two officers, Lt Col D V Satish and Lt Col S Chakraborty, demotivated by the episode, took premature retirement, Dalvi decided to probe further. It started with a statutory complaint in 1996 which was rejected in 1998 and again in 2000 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Dalvi then approached the Delhi High Court, where the case’s fate was no different. The conclusion of the case, which was being heard in the Supreme Court since 2004, was identical when Justice R M Lodha and Justice H L Gokhale dismissed it on Tuesday.
“I became Colonel in 2004-05 on time-scale promotion. My fight has not been not for promotion. Having gone through the system myself, I understand how talented officers sometimes don’t make it to higher ranks. I know of at least 10-15 cases where such officers took premature retirement after they were denied promotions on merit. This reflects on the morale of the officers and can result in poor leadership at the top. Though my case was dismissed, I am happy that I fought it to its logical end. More so because it happened at a when promotions in the Army are being discussed openly,” said Dalvi.
-via Express India.