A military tribunal on 29 May 2019 allowed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to take charge as the new Navy chief on 31 May 2019 as it deferred hearing on a petition challenging his appointment by nearly seven weeks. Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command Vice Admiral Bimal Verma had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) here challenging the appointment of Vice Admiral Singh as the next Navy Chief, overlooking his seniority.
The AFT allowed Vice Admiral Singh to take charge as the new Navy chief from incumbent Admiral Sunil Lanba on May 31 and that his continuation will depend on the final outcome of the case.
On May 22, the tribunal had directed the government to produce before it on May 29 all records and documents relating to the selection of the new Navy chief. However, the government could not produce records and sought more time.
In his petition to the defense ministry, Vice Admiral Verma wondered why he was overlooked for the top post despite being the senior-most in the line of command, terming “wrongful” the government’s decision to appoint Vice Admiral Singh to the post.
Besides Vice Admiral Verma, the other contenders for the Navy chief’s post included Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) of Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar and FOC-in-C of Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla.
Vice Admiral Singh, who is at present serving as the FOC-in-C of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, will be the first helicopter pilot to become chief of Naval Staff.