The Delhi High Court has granted 12 weeks to the Union government to decide on whether to scrap or retain the dual control structure for Assam Rifles, which, at present, is controlled by the Defence Ministry as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Observing that the matter has been pending for almost three years, the court said it appears that an in-principle decision has been taken to keep the central armed police force under the exclusive control of MHA, but the final decision has not yet been taken.
“The matter involves servicemen/ex-servicemen and whose interest is not only to be paramount, but is proclaimed from various platforms of the Government, to be paramount. When a decision of such paramountcy is required to be taken, there should be no delay therein,” the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon said.
The court has also requested the Home Minister, Defence Minister, Secretaries of the two ministries, Chief of Army Staff, Director General of Assam Rifles and others involved to cooperate in making the decision within the time period. While listing the case’s next hearing on December 14, the court directed the MHA Joint Secretary (P-II) (CAPF) S.K. Shahi to ensure that the meetings are held from time to time for the culmination of the decision.
“We thus expect the decision as sought by the petitioner or the counter affidavit to be before us by the next date of hearing,” reads the order, adding, “if no decision is taken by the next date, Shri S.K. Shahi aforesaid to remain present in person on the next date of hearing”. The order was passed on a petition filed by Assam Rifles Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association. Its plea contends that dual control prejudices the personnel of the force.