Vice Admiral Verma files fresh plea on appointment of new Navy Chief

Vice Admiral Bimal Verma on Tuesday filed a fresh petition at a military tribunal here, seeking cancellation of the defence ministry’s order appointing Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Navy Chief.

In his petition, Verma also sought quashing of a note issued by the defence ministry rejecting his plea against Singh’s appointment.

“The petition will come up for hearing on Wednesday,” Verma’s lawyer Ankur Chhibber said.

Last week, the Defence Ministry rejected Verma’s petition challenging the appointment of his junior, Vice Admiral Singh, as the next Navy Chief.

Chhibber said a previous petition filed with the AFT on the issue was withdrawn on Monday for filing the detailed plea on the issue.

In an order last week, the defence ministry said Verma’s statutory petition dated April 10 against appointment of Vice Admiral Singh to the top post is devoid of merit and has been rejected in exercise of powers under Section 23 of the Navy Act 1957. Verma, commander-in-chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command and senior-most naval commander, had moved the tribunal last month questioning Vice Admiral Singh’s appointment as the next Navy Chief, overlooking his seniority. Singh is scheduled to take charge as the new Navy chief from incumbent Admiral Sunil Lanba, who will demit office on May 31.

The tribunal had on April 25 directed the defence ministry to decide Verma’s petition within three weeks.

Rejecting Verma’s plea, the defence ministry said a thorough selection process was conducted under which overall service profile of all the contenders for the top post was examined.

It said specific parameters for selection were applied uniformly to all the contenders and based on the assessment, it was found that Vice Admiral Verma, though being the senior most eligible officer, was unsuitable to hold the post of the Chief of the Naval Staff. In his petition to the defence ministry, Verma wondered why he was overlooked for the top post despite being the senior-most in the line of command, terming as “wrongful” the government’s decision to appoint Singh to the post.

While appointing the Army chief in 2016, the government did not follow the long-held tradition of going by seniority. Bipin Rawat was appointed Army chief superseding then Eastern Command Chief Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Command Chief PM Hariz.

Besides Verma, the other contenders for the Navy Chief post included Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, FOC-in-C of Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar and FOC-in-C of Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla.

Singh, who is at present serving as the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, will be the first helicopter pilot to become chief of naval staff.

First Published:
May 22, 2019 09:36 IST

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