Defence minister Rajnath Singh said that the government is taking steps to further empower the armed forces tribunal (AFT) and make it more responsive.
GS Paper 2: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
Each branch of the armed forces extolling its own importance does not help us prepare for the future. Analyze in the context of India’s need for a unified military command (150 words)
Armed Forces Tribunal
- The Armed Forces Tribunal Act 2007 created it in August 2009.
- The Law Commission’s 169th report recommended creating a special tribunal for the military forces, which would have the authority to rule on and/or conduct trials for disputes and complaints pertaining to commission, appointments, enrolments, and conditions of service.
- The AFT has 10 Regional Benches in addition to the Principal Bench in New Delhi.
- The Tribunal is made up of both administrative and judicial members.
- The judicial members are former judges of the High Court.
- Administrative Members are retired members of the armed forces who have held the position of Judge Advocate General (JAG) for at least one year and rank of Major General/equivalent or higher for a minimum of three years.
- Any appeals against a court-order, martial’s decision, finding, sentence, or any related matter may be heard by the Tribunal. Additionally, it has the authority to release an accused person held by the military on bail.
- The Tribunal may have the authority to override the court martial’s conclusions. It may:
- commute the punishment to a lesser punishment; mitigate the punishment; or o remit all or any portion of the sentence, with or without conditions. It may also increase the sentence imposed by the court martial.
The authority of other courts
- The Delhi High Court ruled in March 2022 that, in accordance with Article 227(4) of the Constitution, the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, does not fall under the High Court’s administrative control.
- However, Article 226’s judicial supervision and jurisdiction are not disregarded.
- In January 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed that the Armed Forces Tribunals’ (AFT) rulings may be appealed to higher courts.
- A bench of the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that appeals of AFT decisions must be made to lower courts.
- Additionally, it had stated that an appeal against the AFT orders would only be admissible before the top court if it involved a legal issue of general public significance.
- The government is committed to giving the Armed Forces Tribunal more authority and flexibility, according to the Union Defense Minister.
- At a seminar called “Introspection: Armed Forces Tribunal,” he was speaking to the group.
- The goal of the seminar was to examine how it operated, offer fixes for any flaws, and address the issues and challenges that litigants encountered when trying to obtain swift justice.
- According to him, domain-specific tribunals were established to handle a variety of cases and resolve open ones.
- In addition, he urged striking a balance between the proverbs “justice hurried is justice buried” and “justice delayed is justice denied.”