With the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) expressing anguish over the lack of power to get its orders executed,the government is working on a proposal to give more teeth to the tribunal by amending the AFT Act,2007. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said a proposal to grant the AFT the powers to punish for civil contempt is under consideration and if approved will take care of the concerns expressed by the Armed Forces Tribunal.
While the tribunal has been handling thousands of cases related to services issues which were earlier being looked at by high courts,the Principal Bench had recently remarked that the lack of power to punish for civil contempt was hampering the implementation of its orders.
The remark came after several key decision made by the tribunal were not implemented by the defence forces. The proposal (to increase powers) is under examination in the CoSC (Chiefs of Staff Committee)/Ministry of Defence. If finally approved…will take care of the concerns expressed by AFT, the ministry has written in a detailed reply to the parliamentary standing committee on defence.
While the ministry has said the decisions of the tribunal are generally implemented,it has blamed the hierarchical structure of the services for delays. The ministry has pointed out at the Army in particular for delays and has admitted that over 300 decisions are yet to be implemented.
In all,in 303 cases,decisions of various Benches of the tribunal are yet to be implemented by the services. In a few cases involving substantial question of law,they are processed for adjudication by the Supreme Court, the ministry has stated.
While an amendment to the Act will take some time,the ministry has issued instructions to the services for prompt compliance of the orders of the tribunal or to file appeals against them on time. Ministry of Defence has advised the three services to promptly implement the decisions of AFT. They have also been advised to give importance to the decisions of the tribunal like the decisions of High Courts or the Supreme Court, the committee has been informed.