24 July :The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the creation of 31 posts for the Armed Forces Tribunal paving the way for the creation of the proposed independent adjudicating forum for dispensing cost effective and speedy justice to the armed forces personnel.
The posts include 1 of Chairperson and 29 posts of members for the Principal Bench at New Delhi and 8 Regional Branches. It also includes one post of Principal Registrar at the Principal Bench. The process for the setting up of the Armed Forces Tribunal gathered momentum after the Defence Minister Shri A K Antony assumed charge in October 2006.
The Principal Bench at New Delhi will have three courts and will have jurisdiction over High Courts in the State of Delhi. Similarly, the Chandigarh and Lucknow Benches will have 3 courts each. The Chandigarh Bench will have jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana, J&K and Himachal Pradesh. The Lucknow Bench will have jurisdiction over Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. The other locations for the Benches with one court each will be Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai and Jaipur. The Kolkata Bench will have jurisdiction over West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Guwahati Bench will have jurisdiction over Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. The Mumbai Bench will have jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. While Kochi Bench will have jurisdiction over Kerala and Karnataka, Chennai Bench will look after Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The Jaipur Bench will have jurisdiction over Rajasthan.
The setting up of the Armed Forces Tribunal will fulfill a long-felt need of the country’s three defence services. Over 9,800 cases filed by Service personnel are pending before various High Courts. The maximum number of cases numbering 2487 will be transferred to the Chandigarh Bench while 2407 will be adjudicated by the Lucknow Bench. Two thousand three hundred and six (2,306) cases are proposed to be transferred to the Delhi Principal Bench.
The Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 which was passed by the Parliament during the Winter Session of 2007 received the assent of the President on 25th December, 2007. The Act was notified on 28th December, 2007. It provides for adjudication or trial by the tribunal of disputes and complaints with respect to commission, appointments, enrolment and conditions of service in respect of persons subject to Three Services Acts as also for appeals arising out of orders, findings or sentences of court martial held under the said Acts and for matters connected with them. The Act came into force with effect from 15th June, 2008. The Tribunal will have original jurisdiction in service matters and appellate jurisdiction in court martial matters. The Chairman of the Tribunal will be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court. The Tribunal will consist of 1 Chairperson, 14 judicial and 15 administrative members. The administrative members shall be officer of the rank of Major General or above in the Army or equivalent rank in the Navy or the Air Force with three years of service in that rank. JAG of three Services with at least one year of service as JAG shall also be eligible. The judicial member should be serving or retired judge of the High Court. All appointments to the Tribunal will be made in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The Tribunal shall have powers to punish for its contempt.