nDefence Ministry on Saturday rejected Vice Admiral Bimal Verma's petition challenging the appointment of Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Navy Chief, overlooking his seniority. In its order, the Defence Ministry said the appointment was made considering all laid down norms, asserting that seniority can't be the only criteria for the selection, according to officials.
Verma had moved a military tribunal questioning Vice Admiral Singh's appointment as the next Navy Chief and the tribunal on April 26 gave three weeks to the Defence Ministry to decide on Verma's petition.
The Defence Ministry, in its reply to Verma's plea, said a robust selection procedure was followed for selecting the next Navy Chief and that the petitioner found unsuitable for the top post, according to the officials.
The Ministry held that no unsubstantiated, frivolous, extraneous or irrelevant considerations have any bearing on appointment of the next Navy Chief, they said. Verma, the senior-most naval commander, had moved the Armed Forces Tribunal last month after the defence ministry did not respond to his statutory complaint against Vice Admiral Singh's appointment.
The Armed Forces Tribunal here is scheduled to hear the case on Monday. A lawyer of Verma said the vice admiral will challenge at the AFT the Government's order rejecting his petition. Verma is at present serving as commander-in-chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
He had filed a statutory complaint with the Defence Ministry on April 10, challenging appointment of Singh, and asked it to respond within 10 days. However, as there was no response from the ministry, he approached the AFT on April 24. In his petition, 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. The government had in March named Singh as the next chief of naval staff, to succeed Admiral Sunil Lanba who retires on May 30.
The government made the selection following a merit-based approach and did not go with the tradition of appointing the senior-most eligible officer to the post. Verma, senior to Singh, was among the contenders for the top 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. Verma is brother of former Navy chief Nirmal Kumar Verma.