Navy to have new chief, but tribunal decision not final

Vice Admiral Karambir Singh.

New Delhi,  The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Wednesday paved the way for Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to take charge as the next Navy Chief, as it deferred the hearing in the case filed by Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, who has challenged Singh’s appointment to the top post.

The AFT said that Singh’s appointment will subject to the final outcome of the petition filed by Verma, which has been deferred for four weeks. The AFT said that the consideration of instant matter stands deferred by four weeks.

Singh will take over as the Navy Chief on May 31 after the incumbent, Admiral Sunil Lanba, retires.

Verma had challenged the Defence Ministry decision which overlooked his appointment to the top post in the navy, and moved the court requesting to be heard before Singh assumes the post of Navy Chief on May 31. He filed a petition in AFT on May 22 seeking directions to nullify Centre’s decision regarding Singh’s appointment.

The AFT observed that Verma’s contention to hold-up the appointment of the Navy Chief will not be in the interest of the organization, and, therefore, it would be appropriate to make the appointment subject to the final outcome in the matter.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, who representing the government, told IANS that “the court has addressed our main concern, that is, there no hold-up in the appointment of the new Navy Chief.”

He also sought four weeks to present the necessary documents in connection with the appointment of Vice Admiral Singh.

Speaking to IANS, Verma’s counsel Ankur Chhibber said: “The appointment of Admiral Singh to the post of Chief of Naval Staff is subject to the outcome the petition filed by Admiral Verma and further orders passed by the court.”

On May 22, the AFT had sought records in connection with the appointment to see if there was merit in Verma’s plea on putting the appointment on hold. The Centre has sought approval from the competent authority for placing the records before the court and had sought four weeks time.

Lekhi submitted that the top officials in the ministry were not available to approve placing of the record before the tribunal, as the government was dissolved on Saturday following the general election.