The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has said that it would take defence authorities to task if its orders are not implemented, while hearing a bunch of cases regarding rounding off disability.
The Chandigarh AFT has the highest number of cases pending in the country at over 6,000. Most of the cases are execution petitions as defence authorities have not been complying with the orders of the AFT.
A bench headed by Justice SS Thakur made it clear that the AFT could also invoke contempt jurisdiction since non-implementation of orders amounted to interference in the administration of justice.
A petition is also pending in the Punjab and Haryana high court where a disabled soldier, Rajender Singh, had averred, “The AFT has taken no lawful coercive action against wilful disobedience and breach of its orders by the Army authorities. It is pointed out that there are thousands of orders passed by the Tribunal which have not been given effect, more particularly by the Chief Controller of Defence Accounts (Pension) at Allahabad (UP).”
The high court had then directed the ministry of defence to file an affidavit about all cases that had not been implemented in which there was no stay from a higher court.
The high court had ruled in May last year that the AFT could use powers given in the Civil Procedure Code, which provides for arrest and attachment if the orders are not complied with. But the AFT has not been using these powers so far. Even the Kerala high court had ruled in 2010 that non-compliance of AFT orders amounted to interference in the administration of justice and criminal contempt.
The Chandigarh bench has jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.