By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 7th March 14
In a landmark ruling on Monday, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) struck down a contentious army promotion policy, which has deeply divided the officer class since it was implemented in 2009.
The discriminatory policy rigged promotions in favour of the two biggest arms --- the infantry and artillery --- by allocating them an unfairly large number of promotion vacancies at the “commanding officer” rank of colonel.
The rigged rules ensured the dominance of infantry and artillery officers across all senior ranks, since their preponderance at the rank of colonel --- which the 2009 policy ensured --- translated into additional vacancies at the successively higher ranks of brigadier, major general and lieutenant general.
“The action of the [army in] not granting equal opportunity of promotion to all officers of all corps of Indian Army is discriminatory and violates the fundamental rights of the petitioners under Article 14, 6 and 21 of the Constitution of India”, the AFT has ruled.
The AFT has ordered that all promotion boards to the rank of colonel held after 2008 should be conducted afresh, with other arms and services allocated vacancies based on a “pro rata” calculation.