Sunday, April 12, 2015


                                                                                                            Dated: 11 April 2015

Shri Narendra Modi
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
New Delhi – 110 001

Shri Manohar Parr                                                                                                                         Hon’ble Raksha Mantri                                                                                                                      104, South Block, New Delhi

Shri. D.V. Sadananda Gowda                                                                                                      Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice                                                                                              Room No. 401, A Wing, 4th Floor,                                                                                                  Shastri Bhavan,New Delhi  - 110001 


The Hon’ble Supreme Court on 11 March 2015 pronounced a decision in a case wherein it was held that orders passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) would not be challenged by litigants in Hon’ble High Courts but only in the Supreme Court. The judgement was passed on an appeal filed by the Ministry of Defence (and perhaps also the Army HQ) during the time of the last Government. We also have reasonable information to believe that one of the grounds raised by the MoD/Army in the appeal for denying the right of judicial remedy like other citizens of India was that Fundamental Rights can be restricted/abrogated under Article 33 of the Constitution for defence personnel and hence a judicial remedy under writ jurisdiction of High Court would not be available. If it is true that this argument was raised by the MoD/Army, then it is the most unfortunate that the system itself is pleading for placing defence personnel on a lower pedestal than other citizens and pleading before the Hon’ble SC that the military community does not deserve the enjoyment of fundamental rights like others. It is a well known fact that Article 33 only operates during performance of duties to maintain discipline and has no connection with right to access of justice. It is also well known that the majority of cases in the AFT pertain to retired personnel, military widows and their families and hence Article 33 even otherwise has no applicability. This is also against the spirit of Article 39A of the Constitution which underlines equal justice for all citizens.

While in the beginning, there was an attempt to convince us that the decision will lead to ‘quicker’ justice to defence personnel, on closer and deeper examination of the issue, the following real facts and fallouts emerge:

1. There is actually no right of appeal to the Supreme Court from AFT orders as per AFT Act since an appeal only lies in exceptional cases involving ‘point of law of general public importance’ vide Section 31 of AFT Act, hence what has been pleaded before the SC is that AFT should become the court of first instance as well as the court of last instance, leaving defence personnel, veterans and widows remediless since it is well known that 99.9% of cases can never involve ‘public importance’ questions. The decision will not lead to ‘quicker’ justice but in reality remove all chances and channels of challenge/appeal against AFT decisions. Can this bogey of ‘quicker’ justice be raised at the price of fundamental rights of accessible justice and remedy to citizens?

2. It is well known that almost all such litigants cannot afford litigation in SC due to its prohibitive cost and the aura itself of being the highest court of the country. It is not understood how the defence ministry expects poor litigants including disabled soldiers and widows from all over the country to travel to Delhi and engage lawyers in SC to fight their cases. Most of the cases in the AFT involve issues such as disability benefits, pension, minor allowances, pay fixation, ACRs etc and litigants would now be expected to suffer in silence if they feel that they have not got justice from AFT.

3.  Defence personnel, veterans, widows and families have been deprived of their basic right of access to justice due to the plea raised by the MoD/Army wherein while all citizens of the country would have access to multiple tiers of justice, not even one tier would be available to us. Even civil govt employees aggrieved by orders of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) can approach the HC if they are dissatisfied and then further the SC, whereas similar access has been denied to us and after an order of the AFT even the SC cannot be approached as a matter of vested right unless there is involvement of a point of general public importance.

4. We hereby express our dismay on the attempt of the official system to convey to the SC that fundamental rights of the military community should be restricted or abrogated. We are disappointed that the system itself by raising the plea of Article 33 is attempting to prove that defence personnel, ex-servicemen and their families are lower than the ordinary person on the street. This will have disastrous consequences in the years to come. If the MoD/Army makes such averments pleading for taking away the fundamental rights of their own members and former members and their families, then it is extremely unfortunate.

5.  It is well known that the AFT functions under the control of the MoD and even Members of AFT are appointed by the MoD and selected by a selection committee which has the Defence Secretary as its member. AFT has also not been given civil contempt powers to ensure compliance of its orders. In other words, an ineffectual body has been created which functions under the MoD and then now on the plea of the MoD it has been assured that there is no effective appeal making it an all supreme body.

In light of the above, while expressing dissatisfaction at the stand and damaging stance of the MoD and the Army in the said case which has led to such a situation, we request you to kindly abrogate Sections 30 and 31 of the AFT Act so that AFT orders can be challenged on the lines of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) thereby making justice accessible and practical for defence personnel, ex-servicemen, widows and their families.

With regards,
                                                            Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
                                                            Chairman IESM
                                                            Mob: +919312404269, 0124-4110570                                                                                              Email :

Copy to :-

General Dalbir Singh                                             
PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC                             Chief of the Army Staff 
Integrated HQs of  Ministry of Defence (Army)
South Block, New Delhi-110011

For information and necessary action please.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha                              
PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC                                             Chief of the Air Staff & Chairman,                             Chiefs of Staffs Committee (CoSC),                           Integrated HQs of Ministry of Defence (AF)  Vayu Bhawan,  New Delhi 110011

Our request as above.
Admiral R K Dhowan, PVSM, AVSM, YSM,ADC    Chief of the Naval Staff                             Integrated HQs of Ministry of Defence(Navy)        South Block, New Delhi -110011

(Via E-MAIL)
 Our request as above.


  1. It is good to get justice from AFT in reasonable time otherwise HC/SC takes numbers of years .
    The expenditure of case is HC/SC for long duration is unaffordable .
    Nothing wrong if AFT to become a first and last court for defence veterans .

  2. Dear Mr B Singh,

    1. AFT has no contempt power. It is upto the Govt to implement the verdict of the AFT. If the verdict of the Govt is not implemented, What will you do?

    2. The AFT is functioning under MOD and Defence Secretary is one of member in the selection of AFT. Most of the cases in the AFT are against the decision of the MOD. There may be a possible pressure on them by the MOD.. AFT should be under law ministry.

    3. How can you say that the AFT verdict is always right as per law?

    4. Restriction/abrogation of fundamental rights is not only applicable to Armed Forces Personnel. It is applicable to other security forces also, but they will be enjoying right as other citizen.

    5. The abrogation/restriction of fundamental rights is only during duties. But, the most of the cases filed in the AFT are by widows and retired personnel. Hence, it is wrong to deny them the right to apply in High court.

    6. A case of public interest can be appealed in the HSC by passing SC. Now tell a widow from north east or from south will go to Delhi. Is that not denying them appeal in the high court injustice to them?