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ACC Rejects IAF’s Promotion List For Rank Of Air Marshal

Special Promotion Board reconvenes under Air Chief to review selection and submit a new list

Photo Credit : Indian Air Force


File photo of the top brass of the Indian Air Force seated with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

In a highly unusual move, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister has returned the recommendation of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for promotion of 10 officers to the rank of Air Marshal. 

The rejection of the recommendation of the Special Promotion Board held in December 2021 was accompanied by a directive to reconvene the Board for reconsidering 30 officers for promotion, in accordance with earlier directions of the Supreme Court to consider three officers for every vacancy in three-star rank. 

Highly placed sources disclosed that the special promotion board of the IAF chaired by the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and comprising the Vice-Chief and all Air Marshals of the level of field commander-in-chief was reconvened in April 2022. The revised recommendations of the reconvened Board are being vetted for a final decision. 

The 30 Air Vice-Marshals considered for promotion are from the 137th, 138th and 139th courses of the IAF. 

“It’s very unusual for a promotion board to be reconvened,” sources acknowledged. Officials are tightlipped on the reason for the wholesale rejection of the IAF’s initial promotion list at the highest political level.

The recommendation of the promotion board is based on evaluation of merit to the extent of 95 per cent while 5 per cent discretion is allowed to the Board. 

It is not yet clear whether the political directive for reconsideration was the outcome of any violation of process or procedure coming to light. 

There are 29 posts of Air Marshal in the IAF and the number of slots up-for-grabs in the ongoing round of promotions will determine the composition of over one-thirds of the top brass of the Air Force for the next few years.

Observers recall a precedent in 2010-11 when the Government rejected the Army’s list of promotees to three-star level and ordered reconvening of the promotion board. It was reported that reconsideration was ordered when it came to notice that changes had been made to the selection criteria without the approval of the Defence Minister. “It took several months for the matter to be sorted out,” an officer recalled.