Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Armed Forces Tribunal toothless, says its chief-Writes to government demanding amendments to the Act

Terming the Armed Forces Tribunal as virtually toothless in the absence of provisions for execution of its orders, its Chairperson Justice A.K. Mathur today said that he has written to the Centre recommending amendments in the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

Speaking at a seminar on “Military Justice System and Armed Forces Tribunal”, organised to mark the first anniversary of the AFT’s Chandigarh bench, Justice Mathur said that the AFT should have powers to issue contempt to ensure compliance of orders, which is found wanting by the implementing agencies.

He was also highly critical of the military judicial system, pointing out that judicial review of court martial trials revealed severe shortcomings in the military process and gross violations of the established procedures and methodology of investigations and conduct of criminal trial.

Justice Mathur said that matters concerning summary court martial and postings should also be shifted from the ambit of the High Court to the AFT to end dual jurisdiction. Justice Mathur also squarely blamed the military for the troubles that veterans are facing on grant and fixation of pension, especially disability pension. Pointing towards the non-cooperative attitude of the services towards administrative issues, he said that some senior commanders viewed the Tribunal as an institution created to usurp their authority and powers.

Head of the AFT’s Chandigarh Bench, Justice Ghanshyam Prashad said that in courts martial, officers given the task of judges have no formal legal training and therefore, there was a greater risk of miscarriage of justice. He added that there should be a separate cadre of officers with a legal background to hold court martial proceedings. He added that despite some shortcomings, the Tribunal is a boon to service personnel as it checked oppressive steps.

Former Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi pointed out that the system of military justice was a time-tested process with in-built checks and balances to ensure transparency, fairness and unwarranted command influence.

The Centre’s counsel, Captain Sandeep Bansal said that discipline is the bedrock of the armed forces and the courts should ensure that in the process of delivering justice, discipline is not compromised. He also said that matters concerning the Army’s group insurance should be brought under the AFT’s ambit.

Stating that appeals and revisions against the High Court and the AFT orders were being filed by the government in contravention of the National Litigation Policy, Major Navdeep Singh said that there were several issues that should not have reached the litigation stage as these could have easily been sorted out by the Defence Ministry and the pension authorities.
(source-The Tribune)

1 comment:

  1. Please see the following paper :
    for detailed analysis of the military criminal justice system