The Supreme Court today asked over 100 army officers, who have alleged discrimination and injustice in promotion of the service corps, to await the government’s decision on the issue. Indian Army Service Corps is a corps and an arm of the Indian Army which handles its logistic support functions. A bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi asked over 100 lieutenant colonels and majors, who have filed the plea in this regard, to wait for the government’s decision and posted the matter for hearing after a month.
The apex court was hearing the plea by these army officers who have contended that the service corps officers were deployed in operational areas and faced challenges similar to those of the combat armed corps. “The action of the army and the government in selectively treating officers of services corps as ‘operational’ for the purpose of deployment in operational areas, but ‘non- operational’ for the purpose of being considered for promotion is violating the fundamental rights of the petitioners and other middle level army officers,” the petition said. “This act of Army and Union government (discrimination in promotion) has created tremendous injustice to the petitioners and others which is detrimental to the morale of the officers and, in turn, to the defence of the country,” it said.
These officers claimed that discrimination in promotions was telling upon the morale of the services corps officers who have been discharging their duty in a dedicated manner for more than 10-15 years. They have challenged the “selective” treatment of service corps officers as ‘operational’ when the need arises and relegating them to ‘non-operational’ when it concerned promotions. “The petitioners also wish to draw attention of the Supreme Court that the sacrifices of officers of services corps are at par, if not more, with officers of combat armed corps in the Indian Army,” they said. “Officers from all other corps (like Signals) in the Indian Army, who are similarly placed as the petitioners, are being considered as ‘operational’ for all purposes while officers of services corps have been discriminated arbitrarily despite the fact that there is no difference in deployment and other duties which they are bound by the Army Act to discharge,” they added.
It has sought directions to the government and the Army “to uphold the law that the combat services are an integral and operational arm of the regular Indian Army and to treat combat services at par with the other corps of regular Army”. “In the alternative, the government and Army may be restrained from routinely deploying services corps in any area of operation, save and except in circumstances of exigencies,” they said. The apex court had last year upheld the 2009 ‘command exit promotion’ policy of the Indian Army and asked the Centre to create 141 additional vacancies to the rank of Colonel to promote officers of ‘Combat Support’ streams.