CHANDIGARH: Hundreds of Army personnel posted at the Military Engineer Services (MES), who were put in a situation where they had to work under their juniors on repatriation to the Corps of Engineers, have been granted relief by the Armed Forces Tribunal.
“When persons working in the MES go back to their unit, they should get their due place in that unit without affecting their seniority or promotion. It is seen that when persons working in MES go back to their parent unit, they are sometimes placed below their juniors who are elevated while working in the parent unit. This is discriminatory and violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the Tribunal’s bench comprising Justice AK Mathur and Lt Gen SS Dhillon observed.
Consequent to a study undertaken on the rationalisation of trades in the Army, a policy was formulated to reduce the number of trades for personnel below officer rank and merge some of them to do away with superfluous and outdated practices. As a fall out of this, troops from the militarised cadre of the MES were being repatriated.
“The repatriation would have created a lot of disturbance in the existing status of the parent unit due to the seniority imbalance and seniors being placed under juniors. This would have also seriously affected their further right of promotion and created hardships for them,” Maj K Ramesh (retd), counsel for some of the petitioners said.
“As many as 945 MES personnel, some of whom had been working with the MES for 15 years, were being sent back,” he added.
The Tribunal, while upholding the Army’s rationalisation policy, directed that all the personnel who are repatriated to their parent unit would be restored back to their original seniority and they would be given their due. In case, if anyone is required to pass certain eligibility test for the promotion then he would be given that opportunity and the whole exercise would be undertaken and completed within a period of six months. The Tribunal also directed that these orders would apply to all MES personnel placed in this situation regardless of whether they have sought judicial redressal or not.