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Army Officers Move To Supreme Court Over Discrimination Against Services Corps

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| September 11 , 2017 , 14:02 IST

More than 100 lieutenant colonels and army majors have filed a plea in the Supreme Court alleging "discrimination and injustice" in the promotion of service corps officers merely weeks after new Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assumed office.

This comes as a grave trouble for the new minister as the plea seeks that the government not deploy services corps to operational areas along with combat troops if it cannot promise parity.

They said, "This act of Army and Union government (discrimination in promotion) has created tremendous injustice to the petitioners and others which is detrimental to the morale of the officers and, in turn, to the defence of the country."

Neela Gokahle, legal counsel for the joint petition led by Lt Col PK Choudhary says that service corps are deployed in operational areas and tasked with similar missions as combat corps but are deprived to promotions available to other officers.

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The petition said, "The action of the Army and the Union government in selectively treating officers of services corps as 'operational' for the purpose of deployment in operational areas but 'non-operational' for the purpose of being considered for promotion is violating the fundamental rights of the petitioners and other middle level Army officers."

It said that this continuous discrimination is now taking a toll on the morale of service corps who have also dedicated their life to discharging their duty for over 15 years.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had resolved a petition on February 15 complaining about limited promotion posts for service corps. The court had made its verdict based on the Ajay Vikram Singh Committee's report.

The new petition is not challenging the earlier verdict of the top court, instead, it challenges the selective treatment of the service corps say the petitioners.

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They said, "The petitioners also wish to draw attention of the Supreme Court that the sacrifices of officers of services corps are at par, if not more, with officers of combat arms corps in the Indian Army."

They further added, "Officers from all other corps (like Signals) in the Indian Army, who are similarly placed as the petitioners, are being considered as 'operational' for all purposes while officers of services corps have been discriminated arbitrarily despite the fact that there is no difference in deployment and other duties which they are bound by the Army Act to discharge."

They said, "In the alternative, the government and Army may be restrained from routinely deploying services corps in any area of operation, save and except in circumstances of exigencies."