The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has criticised the manner in which annual confidential reports (ACRs) of officers are expunged in the Army and has ordered that the selection board of a retired Major General for the rank of Lt General be held afresh by Army headquarters and he should be reinstated in service if empanelled for promotion.
Giving directions in a petition filed by Major General S P S Sidhu, the principal bench of the AFT in New Delhi has expressed its reservations on how the ACRs of officers are handled. “… In our considered opinion, there can be nothing more adverse than a complete report being expunged and being taken out of reckoning in the quantified merit calculation,” the bench said.
The bench has directed that the Army should reconsider Maj Gen Sidhu afresh for the rank of Lt General with modified merit and status as per Special Selection Board (SSB) of June 2020.
“Reconsider the applicant with his modified status for his first and final review, if required. This process (must) be completed within three months of this order. Since the applicant has retired, (he should) be reinstated, if empanelled,” the bench stated.
The AFT has also directed a review of the Army headquarters policy on communication of second/ higher reporting officers’ assessment to the ratee and make necessary amendments to include intimation of partial/complete expunction of such reports.