A father’s ambition does not define the standards for selection as a commissioned officer in the Indian Army, the Delhi High Court has held while refusing to direct Indian Military Academy (IMA) to take back a candidate who was not suited to a military lifestyle.
The candidate, son of a Lieutenant Colonel and a fourth generation from the family, had joined the IMA in July 2017 for his pre-commissioning training to join the Indian Army as a commissioned officer. However, he was ordered to be withdrawn from the academy in November 2019.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon noted that the candidate’s father, a serving senior Army officer, had made a fervent plea to consider the case of his son leniently, as the commissioning of his son as an officer of the Indian Army meant a lot to him as it would be the fourth generation from his family to join the force.
“While it may be possible for us to sympathise with the Lieutenant Colonel, but it is not a father’s ambition that defines the standards for selection as a Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army,” the bench said.
The high court noted the records revealed that the candidate was finding it difficult to settle into the regimented and highly disciplined lifestyle at the IMA.
He used to absent himself from training and special and critical events by malingering or reporting sickness and it was this absenteeism and lying about the reasons for such actions that led to imposition of several punishments and constitution of the Honour Code Committee against him, it said.
The bench said it was amply clear that the petitioner is not suited to a military lifestyle and possibly the desires of his father pushed him into this direction and added that he struggled to meet his father’s expectations.
“The father would be well advised to allow his son the freedom to choose his life path and allow him to blossom forth in whatever he so chooses, which is certainly not the Indian Army.
“The petitioner and his father would do well to accept the decision of the IMA gracefully and utilise all the learning in the two years spent by the petitioner at the IMA to work towards a bright future in any other chosen field. There is no merit in the present petition which is accordingly dismissed,” the bench said in its judgement.
According to the petition, the candidate said he should have passed out after completing his course as a commissioned officer in a year and a half, by the end of 2018.
He said he was subjected to ragging and punishments for various infractions right from the beginning of the first term and a week before the second term came to an end in May 2018, he was served with a show cause notice as to why he should not be relegated for having accumulated 60 restrictions in two terms. He had to repeat the second term in the next two sessions.
He claimed that despite his sincere and best efforts, he was unnecessarily targeted and singled out by his Company Commander (Coy Cdr).
Regarding the final physical training tests, the petitioner said he was made to stand outside the Battalion Duty Officer’s room in Full Pack 08 with 40 Kgs of sand and bricks filled into it from 2300 hours to 0200 hours. As a result, he was completely exhausted and he could not perform to the best of his physical capacity and failed in the three tests.
In November 2019, he was awarded more punishments after which his name was withdrawn from the IMA.
The authorities disputed the allegations and claimed that the officers at IMA had supported the candidate to improve his attitude and performance and yet he could not fit into the discipline required for a life in the Indian Army.
It said he was also found physically unfit, particularly because of being overweight and that action has been taken strictly as per the Rules and upon the third Relegation, withdrawal was the only course left with the IMA.
After perusing the records, the court noted that the IMA acted strictly in accordance with the rules on punishments, relegation and withdrawal.
The high court said the Honour Code Committee to examine the conduct of the candidate was properly constituted and proceedings were fairly conducted and decision was taken fairly.
“The explanation offered by the petitioner for failure in the three physical tests may appear plausible but for the fact that the records reveal that the fundamental cause of failure was the obesity of the petitioner,” it said.
The court said the use of language and insistence that he was right whereas everybody else was wrong and levelling accusations that the Honour Code Committee was also biased and predetermined in its attitude to the petitioner underscores the correctness of the decision of the IMA to withdraw him from the academy.