Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has defended the appointment of the new Army Chief, stressing that due procedures were "perfectly followed" by the government, even as he set aside the seniority principle in the selection of service chiefs.
He also said that if seniority alone was the criterion in the selection to such an important post, then a computer could have selected service chiefs based on date of birth. There would not have been any need for a due process or Cabinet Committee for Appointment if seniority alone was the criterion, he added.
"First of all, I do not know where there is principle of seniority. There is a procedure set wherein all commanders are verified for their performance. I can assure you that those who were considered were all good. Too good and probably that is the reason why we could not take decision early," Parrikar said at a press conference in the capital.
The government last month selected Gen Bipin Rawat as the new army chief superseding two other officers - Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Chief of Eastern Army Command and Chief of Southern Army Command Lt Gen PM Hariz – allegedly in a break with the earlier principle of seniority-based selection.
Last time government ignored the senior principle was in 1983, when Lt Gen AS Vaidya was appointed Army Chief superseding Lt Gen SK Sinha, leading to the resignation of the latter.
"They are all good, capable. Circumstances probably required this selection. If you go by seniority principle then there would be no requirement of any procedure.
"There would be no requirement of any Raksha Mantri, there would no requirement of Cabinet Committee on Appointment because then it is a computer job. Date of birth decides who becomes General," he said.
He said the government needs to spend four to five months studying the profile of officers, taking Intelligence Bureau reports among others.
"I can tell you this much that procedure has been perfectly followed as laid down. You can read the procedure. No procedural violation has taken place," Parrikar said.