Vice Admirals Bimal Verma and Karambir Singh standing next to each other at the Naval commanders’ conference (First two officers from left)
Vice Admirals Bimal Verma and Karambir Singh standing next to each other at the Naval commanders’ conference (First two officers from left)

Senior most Vice Admiral again moves court challenging Navy chief's appointment

ANI | Updated: Apr 23, 2019 19:16 IST

New Delhi [India], Apr 23 (ANI): On a day when the top brass of the Navy is discussing important national security matters, the seniormost naval commander Vice Admiral Bimal Verma has again approached the court challenging the appointment of his junior Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Navy Chief.
Vice Admiral Verma, who is commanding Port Blair-based Andaman and Nicobar Command, had first approached the tribunal on April 8 but withdrew his petition soon after he had not exhausted the legal remedies available to him within the Navy.
In his plea filed through his counsel Ankur Chhibber and daughter Rhea Verma, Vice Admiral Verma has asked the Armed Forces Tribunal to stay the government order of March 23 to appoint Karambir Singh as the next Navy Chief instead of him.
“Call for confidential reports of the applicant and Vice Admiral Karambir... examine them to see whether any irrelevant and extraneous considerations were placed to reject applicant’s case and if so, to expunge the extraneous considerations and direct the competent authority to re-examine the case,” the plea said.
The plea says that the Vice Admiral had filed a statutory complaint before the Defence Ministry for not being appointed the next Navy Chief despite being the seniormost and asked it to decide the matter urgently within ten days.
“The complaint is still pending with the competent authority and hence this original application (petition),” the plea stated.
Both the seniormost admirals of the Navy were present in the naval commanders’ conference earlier today.
Before approaching the court against Vice Admiral KB Singh’s appointment, it is learnt that Verma had told him about his decision to challenge his appointment saying that there should not be any hard feelings.
The post will get vacant on May 31 next month owing to the retirement of Admiral Sunil Lanba who is superannuating after a three-year tenure.
In the original plea, the Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command had sought to know why he was overlooked as the next Navy chief despite being the senior most in terms of the length of service.
In a communication dated March 23, he had stated that the government has "illegally" and in a "wrongful" manner appointed his junior Karambir Singh as the next Navy chief.
"The Government has appointed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, Eastern Naval Commander as the next Chief of Naval Staff in place of Admiral Sunil Lanba who vacates the office on 31 May 2019," Defence Ministry spokesperson Col Aman Anand had announced.
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh who is presently the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) East will be the first helicopter pilot of Indian Navy to become Chief Naval Staff.
Verma had stated that he felt that the respondents (government) have illegally and in a wrongful manner used the two letters of Severe Displeasure, which were issued to him in 2005 and 2007, to deny him the post of the Navy chief.
The two letters were issued to Verma on October 28, 2005, and June 20, 2007, and he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and Rear Admiral afterwards, thereby taking away the sting of the said letters.
Verma also said that "it is imperative that the Armed Forces court apply the 'Wednesbury rule' and consider whether relevant facts are not considered and irrelevant facts were considered by the respondents before passing the impugned letter."
The Naval headquarters forwarded the name of Verma along with Vice Admiral Karambir Singh and Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief Western Naval Command and Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief Southern Naval Command, to head the Navy.
Subsequently, the government decided on Karambir Singh to be the next Naval chief.
This was the second time, including the appointment of General Bipin Rawat as Army Chief in 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government had not gone by seniority but merit among the senior most officers. (ANI)