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HC stays transfers of Army’s first ‘colonel couple’ as they aver violation of norms

The first “colonel couple” in the Army is dogged by transfer woes as the husband and wife, both officers in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Department, have been to widely separated places.

From their present place of posting at Jodhpur, Col Amit Kumar has been posted to Port Blair, while his wife Anu Dogra, who picks up her rank of Colonel this month, will move to Bathinda. They were also the first couple to serve in the JAG Department. There are many other couples serving together in the forces, but not at the rank of Colonel so far.

In a petition that came up for hearing before the Delhi High Court today, the officer, Colonel Amit has averred that the posting orders issued by Army Headquarters was arbitrary and in complete violation of the standard operating procedure on the subject.

A Division Bench comprising Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon today stayed the posting orders till further directions and sought a detailed response from the Army in this regard. The matter was heard through video conferencing.

The petitioner has contended that the basic criteria of spouse posting, especially in case where both husband and wife happen to be serving officers, was not taken into consideration which was not in violation of service norms but is also in contravention of Supreme Court directives.

Further, while issuing the posting order for officers of the rank of selection grade colonel and above the order of preference of station submitted by the officer concerned ought to be considered, but no such recommendation was sought from him. He has also stated that certain events transpired during the course of their present posting due to which he had filed a statutory complaint against senior department officers.

Pointing out that they had been granted a spouse coordinated posting at Jodhpur after about three years, the petitioner added that they had remained separated for long durations in the past due to various factors that prevented spouse coordinated postings.

The petitioner has also averred that despite an unblemished record and having received several commendations, he has been posted to an appointment with substantially low workload despite vacancies being available in heavy workload appointments earmarked for selection grade Colonels. He had raised the issue with the hierarchy but on being told that his posting was in organizational interest.

However, when he requested for leave and additional joining time to cater to family commitments, needs of aged parents, relocation issues amidst the ongoing pandemic and for attending his wife’s piping ceremony, the same was denied.