CHANDIGARH: The Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Department, the Army’s legal wing, is in the eye of the storm yet again. Following a petition by a senior Judge Advocate General officer, alleging irregularities in the empanelment of officers for promotion, the Armed Forces Tribunal has stayed the proceedings of the selection board for Judge Advocate General officers, which was held by the Army headquarters last month.
The controversy arose after the Military Secretary’s (MS) Branch, responsible for officer cadre management, amalgamated two batches of officers of different seniority for empanelment. This, according to Military Secretary Branch’s own policy, cannot be permitted and has thus raised contentions that the move was aimed at pursuing vested interests.
Sources said that 11 officers of the rank of Colonel were empanelled for promotion.
The Judge Advocate General department has just about 120 officers.
Taking up a petition filed by Col Rakesh, posted at Corps 2 Headquarters, Ambala, the tribunal’s bench comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen HS Panag ordered the Army to hold promotions of Judge Advocate General officers till further orders.
In the instant case, Judge Advocate General officers of 1985 batch were empanelled to be considered for promotion with officers of the 1987 batch-two years their junior.
This is not the first case where promotion of Judge Advocate General Branch officers had been stayed on judicial intervention. Only a few weeks ago, the promotion of an officer to the top slot in the Judge Advocate General was stayed after a departmental officer moved the tribunal alleging that he had been blamed earlier by a court of inquiry for professional impropriety. The officer has since picked up his rank as Major General and is now heading the Judge Advocate General Department.
There have also been a couple of instances wherein promotion of Judge Advocate General officers to the department’s top slot were stayed by the courts.