Delay in implementation of the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) benches across the country is resulting in an increasing number of serving and retired defence services personnel and their family members filing contempt petitions asking for implementation of the earlier orders of AFT.
Data accessed by The Indian Express shows, that in cases pertaining to Army, out of a total of 10,645 cases pending in various benches of AFT as on July 1, 2015, as many as 4790 were execution applications. Out of this data, in case of Chandigarh bench, out of a total of 7,117 pending cases, 4390 are execution/contempt applications which means 61.68 per cent of total pending cases are execution/contempt applications alone.
A committee formed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also commented adversely on the tendency on part of government departments under the MoD not to implement the decisions till a contempt petition is filed. The committee, whose report was de-classified recently, observed that non-implementation of orders in time leads to not only frustration amongst litigants and a bad name to the organisation but also in massive outgo of taxpayers’ money and burden on the exchequer by way of costs, interests and avoidable payments to Government Counsel for multiple dates of hearings.
It also found that the delay in implementation of orders burdens the dockets of the courts and increases the figures of pendency of litigation in the country. “It is again a cause of concern that there is an unwritten policy (and even reproduced in writing on certain files) that decisions are not to be implemented unless a contempt/execution application is filed by a litigant. Besides being unethical, this is clearly contemptuous,” the committee said.
The report said that most of the decisions are not implemented on the flimsy pretext of being against ‘government policy’ where it is not realized by the authorities concerned that a majority of cases in Courts is naturally meant to be against perceived policies otherwise there would have been no occasion for a litigant to seek judicial intervention had he/she been covered or satisfied with policy.
“An even more dangerous aspect of this situation is the fact that though the Department of Defence (DoD) of the Ministry of Defence, with the approval of the Defence Secretary and the Raksha Mantri, has already issued detailed guidelines for effective and quick implementation of decisions, it has had no effect on ground,” the committee found.
It added that , “Unfortunately, not only are these instructions being flouted but there was no satisfactory answer forthcoming from any authority as to why were decisions not being implemented in time. There was clearly an approach of ‘passing the buck’ evident. There are many judgements rendered in 2010 and 2011 which have not been implemented till date without there being a stay on them by any higher court”.
Most of the cases where decisions are not implemented pertain to pensionary benefits of the old and the infirm including disabled soldiers and widows and hence are to be processed by the Directorates of the Services HQ dealing with personnel and pensionary matters in conjunction with the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) of the Ministry. The only reason being cited is that of lack of manpower and complicated procedures. The DESW also points out elaborate procedures and files being inordinately delayed for months together at the Services HQ cause a further delay.