The principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), New Delhi, has expressed its anguish at the ministry of defence (MoD) over the non-implementation of its orders and those passed by its regional benches.
The various benches of AFTs have been dealing with a large number of pensionary benefit cases, which include the widow’s family pension, the disability pension, the war injury pension and regular pension matters.
“The biggest hurdle in the working of the AFT is due to the non-execution of the orders passed by the tribunal,” it commented.
It pointed out that whenever the cost is imposed for non-implementation of the orders, on the next date a cheque is offered to the petitioner against the cost imposed; however, “contrary is the stand of Union of India at least at Chandigarh Regional Bench of the tribunal where cost is not paid for years and thousands of such matters are pending” before it.
“We cannot completely rule out the possibility of correction but at least the system suffers from total favouritism in the matter of granting relief to the litigants after the orders of the tribunal. We, in earlier orders, informed the Union of India that out of the 8000-plus cases pending before the AFT, Regional Bench, Chandigarh, there are about 4,000 cases only of execution (where orders are not implemented) of the cases.
This is not only the unnecessary burden upon the tribunal or petitioners but it is seriously affecting the working of the tribunal and more seriously affecting the sufferings of the litigants. The cost amounting to crores of rupees has been imposed upon the government in the last five years and there is no accountability, nobody is responsible for the loss of public money,” said the bench comprising Justice Prakash Tatia, chairperson of AFT, and Lt Gen Sanjiv Langer (retd), while taking up cases of naib subedars.
The bench said, “The tribunal, in earlier orders, has also pointed out that cost is imposed upon the guilty and the guilty is the government/government officers yet the government is paying cost from public exchequer and thereby transferring the compensatory cost upon the public.” It opined that the central government may proceed to identify the cases which may be decided without any contest in the spirit of Lok Adalat and inform the parties for their proposed decision so that matters may be decided by the tribunal accordingly.