The Army authorities sought to justify their decision saying that the officer’s request had not been accepted since he belonged to the fighting arm Infantry, which is faced with an acute shortage of officers. They said further that since the number of applications was greater than the number of vacancies, his request could not be accepted. The court found both the arguments invalid.
New Delhi: A major-rank officer has won a legal battle against the Army for pursuing a course in international studies at the prestigious London School of Economics in England.
The case had started when young officer Major Arjun Singh Chauhan, with 11 years of service, applied for the course and got a seat in the 2017-18 academic studies for international studies and diplomacy, but the authorities concerned rejected his request for attending the course. He was told that he should have applied for a study leave a year in advance.
The officer then resubmitted his plea for the course in 2018-19 in September 2017 a year prior to his course.
His plea was rejected again, but this time he was told that he had not attached a certificate from the Association of Indian Universities confirming that the course was not available in India.
Undeterred by the frequent new demands, the officer arranged for a certificate in this regard and submitted it with the authorities on October 9, 2017.
However, when the authorities issued two lists of officers who had been allowed to proceed on study leave for 2019-20, Chauhan's name was missing in both of them.
Aggrieved by the decision, Chauhan approached the Delhi High Court through his counsel Ankur Chhibber, saying that the "denial of study leave to his client, despite being compliant with every requirement laid down by authorities, is arbitrary and unjustified".
The officer said the course for which he had already deposited £ 1,000 would benefit him and his organisation as well and the authorities were wrong in rejecting his plea unilaterally.
The Army authorities sought to justify their decision saying that the officer’s request had not been accepted since he belonged to the fighting arm Infantry, which is faced with an acute shortage of officers.
The Army authorities said further that since the number of applications was greater than the number of vacancies, his request could not be accepted.
However, the Bench headed by Justice Hima Kohli, including Justice Rekha Palli, found out that the number of vacancies for Infantry was 81 and the number of requests received was only 75 out of which only 62 had been cleared.
The court further stated that the Army policy on study leaves did not include the criteria of shortage of officers for rejecting petitions and, therefore, it could not be accepted as one of the reasons for the rejection.
"We are of the opinion that instead of tinkering with the recommendations, interest of justice would be adequately served if the petitioner is allowed to proceed on study leave in terms of his request. The respondents (Army) is directed to process Chauhan's case for grant of study leave to enable him to pursue the one year course of M Sc in International Strategy and Diplomacy at the London School of Economics that shall commence on September 11, 2018," the High Court said.
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Last Updated Sep 9, 2018, 10:42 AM IST