The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued a notice of motion to the Central government and Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the founding president of the AFT Bar Association, Major Navdeep Singh, seeking powers for the tribunal to enforce implementation and execution of its orders.
Giving examples, the PIL points out that the ministry of defence (MoD) refuses to implement decisions of the AFT even when upheld by the Supreme Court, and that though there is a section in the AFT Act ordaining the execution of its orders, the procedure is not laid down, and neither does the AFT have powers of civil contempt.
The PIL has sought directions to the law ministry to either notify or amplify the procedure of execution of AFT orders, or that the AFT be directed to initiate criminal contempt proceedings in each case of non-compliance.
According to the petition, the government has not complied with more than 3,000 cases of the AFT, on the pretext that the decisions are against "government policy".
The PIL has also stated that while the Chandigarh Bench of the AFT is imposing costs on the MoD for non-compliance of its orders, the said costs were being directed to be paid to the registrar of the AFT rather than the litigants, which was not only against the concept of 'costs', but also directly against the law laid down by constitutional courts.
The petition says that costs are hence being paid from one pocket of the government to another, which itself is alien to law. Directions have been sought to the registrar of the AFT to transfer all costs collected by him to the rightful litigants instead of retaining them.
Specific examples have also been given wherein orders of the AFT upheld by the SC have also not been implemented, including in the Brig AK Bhutani versus Union of India case related to counter-insurgency allowances to army officers posted to the Border Roads Organisation; and Col Sanjeev Sehgal versus Union of India case, related to the implementation of the Dynamic Assured Career Progression Scheme in the Army Medical Corps.
In an earlier PIL filed by Maj Navdeep Singh challenging the acute conflict of interest in the functioning of the AFT, the HC had directed that the control of the AFT should be handed over to the law ministry from the MoD, which was the parent administrative ministry for the AFT.