Chandigarh, September 23
Upholding the discharge of 48 trainees for failing to qualify in academics, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that compromising overall standards of the defence forces just to meet an individual’s personal aspirations or merely as a welfare measure in not desirable.
The trainees, enrolled under the Artificer Apprentice scheme, had been discharged by the Indian Navy as being suitable after they could not qualify repeatedly in the examinations conducted during basic training.
They had consequently moved the AFT seeking directions that they be allowed to continue in technical training or alternatively be granted the opportunity to switch over to a non-technical trade.
The Tribunal observed that the trainees had failed to qualify in the examination in two chances given to them under rules and had also been repeatedly counselled and given numerous opportunities to improve themselves and qualify the course.
“It is an admitted fact that the Navy is a combatant force and technical competence for handling sophisticated equipment is necessary for the security of the nation. It cannot afford to have probationers who cannot pass technical subjects during training,” the Tribunal’s bench comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen CP Mohanty ruled.
The Bench also clarified the status of a trainee in the Navy as a probationer and said if the individual fails to meet the organisational requirement during training, the authorities had every right to discharge him from service.
The Bench also observed that the trainees were enrolled as Artificer Apprentice based upon the availability of vacancies in that trade as per organisational manpower requirements. Since they failed to qualify for that trade, the change in trade as claimed by them also has to be dependent upon the similar necessity for filling vacancies.
“If there are no such vacancies in an alternate trade, providing disqualified applicants from one trade to another merely as a welfare measure would dilute operational readiness and efficiency of the defence forces as a whole,” the Bench said.
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