The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had turned down Vice Admiral Bimal Verma’s plea against the government’s decision to ignore him for the Navy chief’s post despite him being the senior most officer and naming Vice Admiral Karambir Singh.

Verma had filed a statutory complaint to the Ministry after the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) asked him to approach the government with his grievance before taking the legal recourse.

Verma, who heads the Andaman and Nicobar tri-service command, was overlooked for the Navy chief’s post as the government in March, named Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, the FOC-in-C of Eastern Naval Command, as the successor of Admiral Sunil Lanba, who retires on 30 May.

Rejecting the plea, the MoD claimed that seniority is not the only criteria for top appointments in the armed forces and deep selection has been done several times in the past.

While Vice Admiral Verma was commissioned into the Navy in 1979, Vice Admiral Singh – a helicopter pilot – was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1980.

This was the second time in the last five years that the government overlook seniority in favour of merit.

The appointment of General Bipin Rawat as the Chief of Army Staff in 2016 was the first such instance under the NDA government. The government overlooked two senior Army officers, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen PM Hariz when appointing Gen Rawat as the CAS.

Verma had filed the complaint addressed to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on April 10.

On April 8, Verma had moved the armed forces tribunal over his supersession by the government.

However, the next day, he withdrew his petition challenging the government’s move.

(With agency inputs)