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In a relief to the soldiers and officers who are fighting cases in Armed Forces Tribunals (AFTs) in the country, chairperson of principal bench of AFT Justice Prakash Tatia has directed the specific disbursal of the cost imposed by judges in the cases brought before them.
Under the rules, it implies that the litigants would get the benefit of the cost imposed on the central government or Army/Air Force and Navy for not implementing orders.
Right now, costs are simply deposited with the AFT registry and not disbursed to litigants.
Recently, in response to a public interest litigation filed by Major Navdeep Singh, founding president of the AFT Bar Association, the Centre had also infor med the high court that the chairperson had issued directions for specific disbursal of cost.
The cost is the sum of money which the court orders one party to pay the other as compensation.
The order of the chairperson says, “If there is no order of disbursement of the amount deposited with the tribunal or principal registrar of the Bench, then the note in the margin of the order sheet may be appended and the matter may be placed before the same bench for appropriate orders about the disbursement of cost.”
It further says, “If one of the members of the Bench which passed the order imposing the cost is not available due to vacancy/transfer, the matter may be placed before the senior most judicial member for constitution of the Bench in which the remaining member of the Bench which passed the order shall be a member.
If both members are not available due to vacancy/transfer, the matter may be placed before the seniormost judicial member who may constitute the Bench for passing the appropriate order for disbursement of the cost.”
Reacting to the administrative order of chair person on costs, Rajeev Anand, advocate practising in the high court and Chandigarh Bench of the AFT, said, “Here, the costs imposed on the government go into the AFT registry rather than disbursing it to the litigants.
These costs are ultimately derived from the funds of the ministry of defence and deposited into the same funds as AFT also comes under the MoD. It should go to litigants.”
All India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association chairman Bhim Sen Sehgal, who practises in the high court and AFT, said, “The system of not disbursing costs to petitioners is a sham. It is not being followed by any other tribunal or court. Costs are awarded by courts to compensate litigants.”