The keenly awaited Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) to provide a judicial forum for redressal of grievances among the 1.5 million military personnel and another 1.2 million Ex-Servicemen will take off on Saturday.
President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the Tribunal set up by an Act of Parliament in December, 2007. The AFT will have its Principal Bench in New Delhi and eight regional Benches spread across the country, Defence Ministry officials said on Friday.
Armed forces personnel will now be able to challenge in the AFT sentences handed down by the court martial. It will also have powers to grant bail to any person in military custody and is expected to be functional soon once the government issues the relevant notification.
At present, officials said, about 9,000 such cases are pending before various courts across the country, most of them with the High Courts.
"The AFT will not only result in speedy and affordable justice to the men in uniform but also save the Armed Forces’ resources in terms of manpower, material and time. The decisions of the AFT can be challenged only in the Supreme Court," they said.
Justice AK Mathur, a former Supreme Court judge, was appointed the AFT’s first Chairperson and he assumed charge on September 01, 2008.
Besides, each court will consist of a judicial member and an administrative member. In all, there will be 30 members in the 15 courts of the nine AFT benches-- 15 judicial including the Chairperson, and an equal number of administrative members, officials said.