A military tribunal on Wednesday allowed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to take over as the chief of naval staff, after deferring a hearing that challenged his appointment, PTI reported. The government had appointed Singh to the post on March 23, and he will take over from Sunil Lanba on May 31.
Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi, challenging Singh’s appointment on the grounds that his seniority had been overlooked. Verma is the senior-most naval commander.
“The AFT posted the matter for hearing on July 17 as government sought more time for placing records relating to Vice Admiral Singh’s appointment before the tribunal,” Verma’s advocate Ankur Chhibber said. He added that the tribunal allowed Singh to take charge as the new Navy chief, but said his continuation in the post will depend on the verdict in the case.
On May 22, the tribunal ordered the Centre to produce all documents related to Singh’s appointment as Navy chief by May 29. However, the Centre sought more from the tribunal.
The tribunal had on April 25 asked the Ministry of Defence to examine the plea. However, the Ministry of Defence had earlier this month rejected Verma’s petition. It said that the plea, dated April 10, was devoid of merit. The ministry said Singh was chosen after a “thorough selection process”. It said that specific parameters for selection had been equally applied to all candidates, following which Verma was found to be unsuitable for the post.
The Narendra Modi-led government had in 2016 chosen Bipin Rawat as the Army chief, superseding then Eastern Command Chief Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Command Chief PM Hariz.