In a significant landmark judgment the Delhi court deciding a bunch of petitions on Tuesday, has decided, that the judgments given out by any army tribunal can be challenged before the high court. The petitioners had moved the high court citing article 226 and 227 of the constitution of India.
The decision comes in favour of the army personnels who if not satisfied with the decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) can now move the high court for further relief. Till now the judgment could only be challenged before the Supreme Court.
Deciding the bunch of petitions high court bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait in a detailed judgment stated that the tribunal is not a constitutional body and only a statutory body. The High Court was of the view that High courts being constitutional body had the power to review the decision taken by the tribunals in their territories.
The judgment reads that the Armed Forces Tribunal, being manned by personnel appointed by the Executive, albeit in consultation with the Chief Justice of India cannot be said to be truly a judicial review forum as a substitute to High Courts which are constitutional courts. It states that the power of judicial review, being a basic feature of the Constitution, under Article 226 and Article 227 of the Constitution of India is unaffected by the Constitution of the Armed Forces Tribunal and under these articles of the Indian constitution a writ petition is the basic right of any petitioner.
The bench decided that the Constitution of India takes away only the administrative supervisory jurisdiction of High Court over the Armed Forces Tribunal jurisdiction. Thus, decisions by the Armed Forces Tribunal would be amenable to judicial review by High Court under Article 226 as also Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
In lieu of this decision it would be a great relief to those not happy with the tribunal’s decision. Now instead heading to the Supreme Court they will have an easy channel that is to approach the high court under whose jurisdiction the tribunal falls. The same would lead to saving cost which otherwise the petitioner will have to shell out when moving the Supreme Court.