Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 5
The Central Government has appointed seven new members to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), giving a partial fillip to the large number of posts of members lying vacant in the Tribunal, owing to which some benches had become non-functional.
The move comes when new rules notified by the Central Government for the appointment of AFT members were under challenge before the Punjab and Haryana High Court as they violated certain provisions contained in the AFT Act and also prejudiced the independence of the tribunals.
The fresh appointments, however, have been made under provisions of the old rules, sources said.
These include two judicial members — Justice UC Srivastava for the Lucknow Bench and Justice PS Teji for the Jaipur Bench. Justice Srivastava has served at the Allahabad High Court while Justice Teji has served with the Delhi High Court.
The administrative members include two former top officers, each from the Army and the Navy, and one from the Air Force. The Army officers are former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Command, Lt Gen PM Hariz for the Principal Bench at New Delhi and former General Officer Commanding, 12 Corps, Lt Gen Bobby Mathews for the Jaipur Bench.
Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, will move to the Chandigarh Bench, while Vice Admiral AR Karve, former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command will be head to the Lucknow Bench. Air Marshal SRK Nair, former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Training Command, will take up the post at the Tribunal’s Kochi Bench.
The AFT’s mandate is jurisprudence over matters related to the commission, appointments, enrolments and conditions of service in respect of persons subject to the Army Act, the Navy Act, and the Air Force Act, and hear appeals arising out of orders, findings or sentences of courts-martial and disciplinary proceedings.
The Tribunal has eight benches located across India that comprise 17 courts. Each court has an administrative member, who should have served as a judge of a high court, and an administrative member, who is a senior retired defence officer.
With many posts lying vacant, the Supreme Court had recently stayed the retirement of some members so that work of the Tribunal does not shut down. Members from functional benches also used to go on temporary duty to other benches to hear cases filed there.
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