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The Supreme Court dismisses plea of the Army in favour of a serving Brigadier LI Singh

Ningombam Bupenda Meitei *



The Apex Court dismisses Plea of the Army to stay orders of Armed Forces Tribunal in respect of a serving Brigadier who was instrumental in killing 52 Pak army personnel in Drass Sector.

According to I.A.NOS.1-2/2016 in Civil Appeal Diary No(s). 10819/2016 of the Supreme Court of India, the Special Leave Petition filed by the Army to lift the stay granted and restoration of original application of Brig L I Singh by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Principal Bench, New Delhi in Jan 2016 was dismissed on 25th April in the Apex court by the Chief Justice, TS Thakur on the ground that the Respondent (Brig L I Singh) took the right decision by filing Review Application at the AFT and did not approach the Apex Court directly after his writ petition was terminated in March 2015 due to lack of jurisdiction by the Delhi High Court because of an intervening judgement of the Apex court on a different matter.

The Chief Justice was critical against the plea of the Learned Additional Solicitor General, Maninder Singh, representing the Army, and he (the Chief Justice of India) said that “When you have not filed a reply to condonation of delay at the AFT, how do you justify there was inordinate delay? Moreover the Respondent filed the Review Petition at the Armed forces Tribunal, New Delhi within 30 days after its termination.” The Chief Justice also said, “You as the ASG expects to be liberal when there is long delay of nine months in filing Leave Petition by the Appellants, and expects us to be strict against the Respondent.”

The primary aim of the Army in filing the SLP against the interim orders of AFT of May 2015 and Jan 2016 is to lift the stay order of April, 2013 granted in favour of Brig Singh by Delhi High Court so that Brig L. I. Singh is prosecuted in a fabricated case so as to please some personnel holding influential positions in the Army. The double standard and hypocrisy is proven by the fact that when an adverse final judgement against the organisation was passed by the Ld. AFT in the case of Lt. Gen. P. K. Rath (Retd) vs Union of India and Ors, OA No 214/2012 on 14.09.2014, the Appellants did not choose to file an appeal in the Apex Court, so as to embarrass Gen (Retd) V K Singh (presently MoS External Affairs), whereas in the instant case they choose to do so, despite being only interim orders, thereby reinforcing vindictiveness of the Army against Brig Singh. Simultaneously, another agenda is to delay the finalisation of the case by the AFT to deny promotion and career growth to Brig Singh.

It is surprising that when the appeal against the AFT Orders was not recommended twice by the MoD (Ministry of Defence), Dy LA (Defence) and JS & LA (Def) in Oct 2015, how has it been recommended subsequently by the JAG Branch (Army) and Discipline and Vigilance Directorate, ignoring the advice of MoD and gone for the SLP through backtrack channel? This needs to be investigated as the motive appears to be to please someone in the Army holding influential positions who have masterminded the fabricated case against Brig Singh and also to delay early finalisation of the case in the AFT.

From the turn of events, available in public domain, which include the present dismissal of Appeal by the Army against Brig Singh by the Apex Court on April 25, the case is seen as a fabricated one as a vendetta against Brig Singh has he had coordinated delivery of show cause notices, imposition of vigilance ban, non-grant of vigilance clearance for promotions against Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag and two more senior officers of 3 Corps, as per legal provisions and under the directives of the then Army Chief, Gen. V K Singh. The official actions of Brig Singh hurt the ego of these senior officers and would obviously have perceived that official actions against them were due to wrong advice given by Brig Singh to the then Army Chief, when the truth was that he only acted in his official capacity as per legal provisions and on the orders of his superiors. He had no personal interest in the matter.

Immediately after a change of guard, as a vindictive action by personnel holding influential positions in the Army, taking advantage of Brigadier L. I. Singh’s earlier tenure as Commander of a Brigade in Sikkim, he was made to face an Inquiry in a fabricated case on most bizarre allegations of taking away two flower vases and two side carpets of 3x2 feet (2003 vintage) while moving on posting, without any complaints made by anyone, which was belatedly orchestrated behind his back to justify such predetermined actions, followed by a deliberate leak in the National print and electronic media on 19 June 2012. Completely against military norms, his photograph and name were published brazenly in the media even before initiation of an inquiry.

These publications were aimed to damage his reputation, to move him out from vigilance directorate which the authorities were not comfortable with and to nullify the coordinating follow up actions carried out by him while in vigilance directorate, beside to ruin his bright military career. Because of the above vindictive actions by these army personnel holding influential positions, Brig L I Singh filed an Application with the AFT in March 2013 for violations of Statutory Rules, principles of natural justice, mala fide and biasness amongst others.

The stand made by the Army that Lt Gen D.S Suhag became Army Commander Eastern Command only on June 19th 2012 and could not have influenced the case appears to be incorrect, because the Army environment was well aware that Suhag, while as GOC 3 Corps, would become Army Chief in 2014 as per line of succession, once the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India was pleased not to entertain application about the date of birth controversy of Gen. V. K. Singh on February 10th 2012.

It was also known that he would succeed Lt Gen (later Gen) Bikram Singh as Army Commander Eastern Command in June 2012, proven by the fact that during the promotion ban of Suhag, this appointment was kept vacant from June 1st 2012 till it was filled up by Suhag, post lifting the said ban by Bikram Singh after he assumed as the 27th Army Chief on June 1st 2012. Thus, the subordinate officers, for their career growth, were more than willing to oblige Suhag in manufacturing a case against Brig Singh.

L I Singh is a recipient of Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) for his service in the face of enemy during Operation PARAKRAM and Operation RAKSHAK in Drass Sector, presently holding the rank of Brigadier after having served since 1983 as an Infantry Officer of the highest caliber with an impeccable and unblemished service record. He is a graduate of Defence Services Staff College and had unique distinction of serving two tenures during initial skirmishes with the Pakistanis (most difficult period) in Siachen Glacier (Operation Meghdoot) in 1985-86 and 1990-92.

He commanded 13 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in Drass Sector (J&K) during Operation Parakram, during which, besides causing enormous destruction to enemy personnel and habitat, his battalion occupied six new posts under extreme hostile conditions, including Point 5608, a formidable feature overlooking Shingo Valley ( in Pakistan). His unit was awarded Unit Citation and Unit Appreciation on Army Day 2004 and 2005, a rare distinction; besides earning 64 individual gallantry awards by his troops.

Beside personnel, holding influential positions in the Army responsible for this fabricated case, even our arch enemy Pakistani Army must be giving a wicked smile after learning that the officer instrumental for killing 52 Pakistanis and injuring 20 in Drass during operation Parakram in 2002-03, has been purged by his own fellow officers. At this rate the Indian Army does not need enemy, but internal rivalry will do the job automatically.

Now, the case will be finally decided by the Tribunal in July after its summer break, subject to timely submission of reply by the Army. For Brig L I Singh, it is just the beginning of the End, there is a long battle he has to fight for his honour and reputation.


* Ningombam Bupenda Meitei wrote this article for e-pao.net
Ningombam Bupenda Meitei is a poet, author and orator
This article was posted on May 07, 2016.


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