The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), however, has made Singh’s appointment subject to the outcome of Vice Admiral Bimal Verma’s petition. A military tribunal on Wednesday allowed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to take charge as the new Navy chief on Friday

NEW DELHI: The Armed Forces Tribunal on Wednesday has cleared the way for Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to become the next Navy Chief, while it has deferred the matter of Vice Admiral Bimal Verma challenging Singh’s appointment by four weeks.

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), however, has made Singh’s appointment subject to the outcome of Verma’s petition. Verma on May 22 had filed a fresh petition with the AFT, seeking quashing of the Centre’s order of appointing his junior Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next navy chief.

The AFT in its Wednesday order said that Verma’s request for putting the appointment on hold will “not be convenient for the health of the organisation”. It added that instead of presently putting it on hold, it will be making it subject to the outcome in the matter. “Consideration of instant matter stands deferred by four weeks,” said the AFT.

The next hearing will be on July 17. “There is no stop to the appointment of the new navy chief, which was our main concern,” said Aman Lekhi, Additional Solicitor General, who is representing the government in the matter to ET.

Singh will take over as the Navy Chief on May 31 after the incumbent one, Admiral Sunil Lanba, retires on that day.

Rhea Verma, Admiral Verma’s daughter, who is representing him in the case with advocate Ankur Chhibber, however pointed out, “the judge made the appointment of the new navy chief subject to the outcome of the case.”

Wednesday’s hearing is important not only for the government but the navy as well, because the AFT during the previous hearing on May 22 had asked for the records relating to the appointment and said that if there is merit in Verma’s petition it can place the appointment on hold. The government counsel submitted an application stating that due to the ‘sensitivity’ of the matter, presenting the required records and filing a reply will need approval of the competent authority in the government. Therefore, it asked for for weeks for this purpose. While an Under Secretary in the defence ministry authorised the application, Lekhi explained to ET that there is no top level official in the ministry yet to approve bringing in the records. This is in context of the government being dissolved on Saturday following the elections.