SC retrains Centre from releasing some Navy officers who didn’t get PC

The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Centre and Navy from releasing some male and female officers, who did not get permanent commission.

A bench, headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, sought reply from the Centre, represented by senior advocate R Balasubramanian and Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain.

The bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, asked the Centre’s counsel to re-examine the grievances of a batch of naval officers, including those who have already been released from the service.

The advocates, appearing for the naval officers, submitted the vacancy position, which has been computed by the naval authorities, is not aligned with the court’s direction in the final judgment in Commander Annie Nagaraja case, which was delivered in 2020.

The bench noted that some naval officers are short of pensionable services by a year or two and those released, can be considered for pension.

Citing that some officers will be released later this week, it said: “We direct that the officers who are already in service shall not be released pending further orders of this court.”

The lawyers pointed out that vacancies, spread over 15 years, have been substantially reduced, due to which officers, who would otherwise be eligible for permanent commission, have been denied it.

After hearing arguments, the top court issued notice to Centre and Navy and sought their replies within four weeks. The top court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by short service commission naval officers, who were not considered for permanent commissions.

Jain said that he would have a re-look in each case and file a detailed counter-affidavit.

The lawyers for the petitioners argued that on the last day of hearing, proceedings of the selection board were tendered before the Armed Force Tribunal, and as a result, the officers had no opportunity to challenge it.

The top court clarified that the present case proceeding will not affect matters, which are pending before the AFT regarding the pre-2008 naval recruits and the tribunal should proceed with it.

The top court, in March 2020, granted permanent commission to women officers in the Navy.

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