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Military court quashes Army board, allows promotable low medical category officers to be considered for elevation

New Delhi: In a major relief for low medical category officers of the Indian Army, the Armed Forces Tribunal on Wednesday quashed the proceedings of an Army special medical board which had declared them to be unfit for promotion on the advice of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
The judgment was pronounced by the Principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal on petitions of a bunch of 17 petitions filed by army officers of the ranks of Colonel and Lt Colonel claiming promotion to the rank of Brigadier and Colonel respectively. These petitioners are in a promotable low medical category with certain employability restrictions such as not to be posted to high altitude areas that is areas above 9000 feet.

On the basis of their excellent record of service, a duly constituted Selection Board held in March 2021 had found these officers fit for promotion to the next higher rank, but the Special Review Medical Board (SRMB) subsequently held in June 2021 "arbitrarily" declared them unfit for promotion.
The decision of SRMB was primarily based on a note written by the then DMA, which "advised" the Army not to promote low medical category officers with serious employability restrictions irrespective of their promotable medical category under the existing policy.
The SRMB did not record any reason while declaring these officers unfit for promotion.
Until the year 2021 officers in similar promotable medical category were seldom denied promotion if already approved by the relevant selection board.

In most of these cases, the injury or disease which made the officers a low medical category (LMC) case was either caused or aggravated by their military service.
"By the judgement delivered today, the Tribunal set aside the SRMB Proceedings whereby these 17 officers were declared unfit for promotion and directed the army to re-constitute a fresh SRMB to reconsider their cases on the basis of policy which was in force up to 2020 without taking into account the Note dated 07 Jan 2021 issued by the DMA,"counsel of these officers Col IS Singh (Retd) told ANI.
The tribunal further directed that while reconsidering these officers for promotion the SRMB shall be guided by the policy followed up to the year 2020 for promotion.
Colonel Singh said the tribunal judgement has come as a big relief for a large number of similarly situated officers who as per the existing policy are in promotable low medical category with certain employability restrictions, yet denied promotion due to an advisory note written by the then DMA addressed to the Army contrary to said policy. (ANI)

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