New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Centre’s decision to appoint Air Marshal Rajvir Singh as Director General of Medical Services (Army) and asked it to appoint Lt General Manomoy Ganguly to the post.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the case pertaining to Lt Gen Ganguly has had a “chequered history” as he had to initially fight for the promotion and then for the post of DGMS (Army).
“As a result, we allow this writ petition (of Ganguly) and quash orders dated August 10, 2018 (to appoint Rajvir Singh) and issue the mandamus directing the respondents (Centre and others) to appoint petitioner (Ganguly) as DGMS (Army),” the bench said.
The bench reproduced the findings of the Armed Forces Tribunal which had said, “There has been some attempt (though we are not suggesting as to whether it was deliberate or bona fide) in denying the respondent his claim for promotion to the rank of Lt. General.”
The bench also said its verdict had asked the Defence Minister to consider the plea of Ganguly seeking appointment as DGMS (Army) “objectively” and “dispassionately”.
“We may point out at the outset that case of the petitioner (Ganguly) is that in spite of judgment of August 01, 2018 passed by this court …, the matter has not been examined dispassionately and objectively keeping in view the law laid down therein as well as the spirit behind the said judgment,” said Justice Sikri, who wrote 39-page verdict for the bench.
According to the petitioner, the government and other authorities are finding one or the other excuse to deny him the post of DGMS (Army), it said.
The court, however, added that the exercise undertaken by the Union Defence Minister in the matter did not suffer from “any element of unfairness”.
It added: “We may record at the outset that the exercise undertaken by Raksha Mantri does not suffer from any element of unfairness and that Raksha Mantri has endeavoured to arrive at the decision, by interpreting the order of this Court in a particular way…The record shows, at least, that the exercise undertaken in arriving at the said decision dated August 10, 2018, is bona fide, at least insofar as the Raksha Mantri is concerned.
“At the same time, we are constrained to remark that the decision-making process suffers from some significant errors and it cannot be said to be unblemished.”
The bench took note of the submission of Ganguly that Singh was already posted as DGMS (Air) and his “lateral shifting” to the post of DGMS (Army) by the government was not justified.
“First fundamental error has occurred in lateral shifting of Air Marshal Rajvir Singh and considering his candidature along with others. It is contrary to the policy Guidelines dated July 10, 1992. The Guidelines permit such a lateral shifting ‘only in exceptional circumstances’. No such exceptional circumstances are sated anywhere on the basis of which this move of lateral shifting is justified,” the judgement said.
There is a chequered history in this case, which is getting curious with each round of litigation, it said, referring to the sequence of various litigations undertaken by Lt General Ganguly.
The first round of litigation started when Ganguly, who was then working as Major General, was denied promotion to the next rank of Lieutenant General.
After getting the promotion from Armed Forces Tribunal and then from the apex court, Ganguly had to move the court for being promoted to the post of DGMS (Army).
Later, the authorities considered the case of promotion of Ganguly for the post of DGMS (Army).
Instead of considering Ganguly, the authorities went on to appoint Air Marshal Rajvir Singh, who was already holding the post of DGHMS (Air), to the post of DGMS (Army) on August 10.