The Supreme Court today stayed an Armed Force Tribunal (AFT) order demoting an officer of the rank of Lt General to Brigadier for allegedly misrepresenting facts and imposing a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the Defence Ministry and the Army.
A vacation bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy also issued notice on the Centre’s plea after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that “the order of the tribunal is not sustainable” and “gross injustice and chaos will be caused if the order is not stayed”.
Rohatgi said that Major General R S Rathore, who has filed the review petition before the tribunal chose not to challenge the appointment of Major General N K Mehta to the post of Lieutenant General but instead challenged his elevation from the post of Brigadier to the rank of Major General, after a period of three years.
To this the bench said that what will be the impact if the orders of AFT is trimmed.
Rohatgi said that then also nothing will help Rathore who is set to retire tomorrow on May 31.
Advocate Aishwarya Bhati appearing for Rathore said that prejudice will be caused to her client, if the order of the AFT is stayed.
Earlier, on May 13, the AFT had ordered that Lt Gen N K Mehta from the Army Ordnance Corps, who had been elevated to the rank of Lt General a few months ago, be demoted to the rank of Brigadier, two rungs below the current rank, with immediate effect for misrepresenting facts before the selection board.
The tribunal has also imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the Union of India and Rs 5 lakh on the officer, which shall be remitted to the Army Central Welfare Fund for the welfare of troops.
The tribunal has held that the promotion of Lt Gen Mehta from the rank of Brigadier to Major General on the basis of a previous AFT order was not tenable due to concealment of facts from the court.
The tribunal has also faulted the Ministry of Defence for its alleged acts of omission and commission in the selection process and had said that it would be open to the government to hold an inquiry and proceed in accordance with law against the persons, who were responsible for the unfair practice in the Ministry of Defence or in the Army.