Supreme Court reminds Armed Forces Tribunal to remain within jurisdiction

The AFT order was challenged by the Union of India in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad HC which set aside the AFT’s directions on grounds of being beyond the scope of the petition.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | New Delhi | Updated: March 9, 2017 6:31 pm
aft, armed forces tribunal, supreme court, army court, indian army, army tribunal court, high court, aft lucknow bench, allahabad high court, legal news There had been a tussle between the Centre and higher judiciary over revising the MoP for judicial appointments.

In a strong reminder to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) to restrain itself while commenting on constitutional court decisions, the Supreme Court has set aside the observations of the Lucknow Bench of the tribunal wherein it had observed that a single bench decision of the High Court setting aside an interim order of the AFT was not binding on it. The AFT, while hearing the case of a Lieutenant Colonel by way of an interim order, had ordered the constitution of a Committee by the Chief of Army Staff to look into the allegations made by the officer regarding unsavoury behaviour with his wife by a high ranking army officer.

The order of the AFT was challenged by the Union of India in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court which set aside the AFT’s directions on grounds of being beyond the scope of the petition filed by the officer. It also ruled that the tribunal could only have gone into the validity of the Annual Confidential Reports (ACR) challenged by the petitioner and that the tribunal did not possess powers of the Supreme Court or the High Court under writ jurisdiction.

However, despite the quashing of its order, the AFT, while grating the main relief of setting aside of the ACR to the petitioner, reiterated its directions of formation of a committee and recorded that the High Court’s judgement was ‘per incuriam’ and lacked ‘binding effect’.

The order of the tribunal was then challenged by the Union of India in the Supreme Court wherein it was averred by the Central Government that “the Armed Forces Tribunal in the impugned judgment has exceeded its jurisdiction by expressing opinion on the High Court judgment which was relevant in the issue and such comments are unwarranted.”

While upholding the setting aside of the officer’s ACR, the Supreme Court has agreed with the Government’s contention and has set aside the observations and opinion expressed by the AFT on the High Court’s directions. The Supreme Court has further recorded “we have no hesitation to say that the Tribunal will be well advised to maintain restraint while expressing its opinion on those issues.”

The Supreme Court has, in the past, reiterated that High Courts being constitutional courts shall retain the superiority and powers under Article 226 over tribunals which are merely creations of the statute and which cannot substitute Constitutional Courts.

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  1. V
    Vish
    Mar 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm
    It is a worthwhile reminder to all courts, including Supreme Court and High Court, Central and State governments also. STAY WITHIN YOUR LIMITS.
    Reply
  2. D
    Deeply Concerned
    Mar 10, 2017 at 1:12 am
    Is this some kind of intolerance infecting even judiciary???
    Reply
  3. G
    G.JEYAPRAKASH
    Mar 10, 2017 at 2:06 am
    IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO APPROACH S.C FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL AGAINST AFT ORDERS.AS MOST VETERANS ARE IN EVENING OF LIFE.FOR .EX. I AM FACING LOT OF DIFFICULTIES TO FILE A SLP LN S.C. LIVINING IN REMOTE VILLAGEIN TN. I BEG TO ALL LEGAL PEOPLE TO ALLOW US TO FILE LEAVE TO APPEAL IN OUR RESPECTIVE H.C.S AS BEFORE.
    Reply