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In rare move, govt grants one-month extension to Army Chief Gen Pande

New Delhi: Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande delivers the keynote address during the 4th General K Sundarji Memorial Lecture on "General Sundarji's Legacy and 'Vision 2100' in the Dynamic Evolution of Warfare", in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): In a rare move, the government has announced extending Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande's tenure by one month, days before his superannuation.

Gen Pande was to retire from service on May 31.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved one month's extension in service of Gen Pande, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The extension to Gen Pande came nearly five decades after the then Indira Gandhi-led government extended the tenure of Army Chief Gen G G Bewoor by one year in April 1974. Gen Bewoor retired on May 31, 1975.

In view of extension given to Gen Bewoor, the next in line Lt Gen Prem Bhagat, known to be a fine military officer, retired from service without becoming the Army Chief, according to military experts.

Before Gen Bewoor, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was given an extension in view of the victory in the 1971 war.

"The Appointments Committee of Cabinet on May 26 approved the extension in service of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj C Pande for a period of one month, beyond his normal age of superannuation (May 31) that is up to June 30 under Rule 16 A (4) of the Army Rules 1954," the defence ministry said.

Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, currently serving as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, is the senior-most official after Gen Pande.

The senior most official after Lt Gen Dwivedi is Lt Gen Ajay Kumar Singh, the Southern Army Commander.

Interestingly, both Lt Gen Dwivedi and Lt Gen Singh, who are course mates, are set to retire on June 30, the day the extension given to Gen Pande comes to an end.

However, the government still will have the option of either appointing Lt Gen Dwivedi or Lt Gen Singh to the top post, going by the previous example of appointment of Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria as the IAF Chief on the day he was set to retire in September 2019.

It is learnt that Lt Gen Singh is a strong contender for the Army Chief's post.

Central Army Commander Lt Gen NS Raja Subramani could be the main contender if the new government looks beyond Lt Gen Dwivedi and Lt Gen Singh, said a source.

Lt Gen Dwivedi, who has vast operational experience along the frontiers with China and Pakistan, assumed charge as Vice Chief in February succeeding Lt Gen MV Suchindra Kumar.

Gen Pande took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff on April 30, 2022 after Gen MM Naravane retired from service.

Before assuming the charge of the top post, Gen Pande was serving as the Vice Chief.

He is the first officer from the Corps of Engineers to helm the force.

In his distinguished career, Gen Pande also served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, which is India's only tri-services command.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) in December 1982.

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