The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the founding president of the AFT Bar Association,Major Navdeep Singh,seeking powers for the tribunal to enforce implementation and execution of its orders.
The petitioner has submitted that the MoD refuses to implement decisions of AFT even when upheld by the Supreme Court. He has pointed out that though there is a section in the AFT Act ordaining execution of its orders,the procedure is not laid down and neither does the AFT have powers of civil contempt.
The petitioner has sought directions to the Law Ministry to either notify or amplify the procedure of execution of AFT orders or that the AFT be directed to initiate criminal contempt proceedings in each case of non-compliance. There are more than 3,000 cases of the AFT,Chandigarh bench,that have not been complied with by the government.
In an earlier PIL filed by Maj Navdeep Singh challenging the conflict of interest in the functioning of the AFT,the High Court had directed that the control of the AFT should be handed over to the Law Ministry from the MoD which was the parent administrative ministry for the AFT.
The PIL has also stated that though the Chandigarh Bench of AFT is imposing costs on the MoD for non-compliance of its orders,the said costs were being directed to be paid to the Registrar of the AFT,rather than the litigants which was not only against the concept of costs but also directly against law laid down by constitutional courts.
The petitioner has submitted that costs are hence being paid from one pocket of the government to another which itself is alien to law. Directions have been sought to the Registrar of AFT to transfer all costs collected by him to the rightful litigants instead of retaining the same.
It is pointed out that accommodation to even Judicial Members of the AFT has not been provided and they are being forced to rent out apartments whereas rules make it mandatory for the members to be allotted accommodation on a par with the High Court judges. It has also been pointed out that the system of AFT is
not functioning smoothly and even government lawyers have not been released their fee by the Central government.
The PIL will come up for resumed hearing on January 29.