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  India   All India  27 Feb 2023  Delhi HC dismisses challenge to Agnipath scheme

Delhi HC dismisses challenge to Agnipath scheme

PTI
Published : Feb 27, 2023, 11:48 am IST
Updated : Feb 27, 2023, 12:57 pm IST

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said there was no reason to interfere with the scheme

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a batch of pleas challenging the Centre's Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces (PTI)
 The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a batch of pleas challenging the Centre's Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces (PTI)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday upheld the Centre's Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces, saying it was made in national interest and to ensure that the armed forces are better equipped.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed a batch of petitions assailing the scheme, and said there was no reason to interfere with it.

Besides pleas challenging the Agnipath scheme, the court also dismissed a bunch of petitions relating to recruitment process for the armed forces under certain previous advertisements while clarifying that such candidates do not have a right to seek recruitment.

The court had reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas on December 15 last year.

The Agnipath scheme, unveiled on June 14, 2022, lays out rules for the recruitment of youth in the armed forces.

According to these rules, those between 17-and-a-half and 21 years of age are eligible to apply and they would be inducted for a four-year tenure. The scheme allows 25 per cent of them to be granted regular service subsequently. After the scheme was unveiled, protests erupted in several states against the scheme.

Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

Earlier during the arguments, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati and central government standing counsel Harish Vaidyanathan, representing the Centre, had said the Agnipath scheme is one of the biggest policy changes in defence recruitment and was going to bring a paradigm shift in the way the armed forces recruit personnel.

"More than 10 lakh aspirants have taken advantage of the two-year age relaxation given by us... A lot of things we cannot say on affidavit, but we have acted in bona fide manner," the ASG has said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners in a petition concerning cancellation of the recruitment processes for the armed forces under certain previous advertisements, had said the government did not stop all recruitments in June 2021 and some of the recruitment processes were held even in August 2021 and in the beginning of 2022.

The high court had also asked the Centre to justify different pay scales of 'Agniveers' and regular sepoys in the Indian Army if their job profile is same.

Defending its Agnipath scheme, the Centre has said a large amount of study has gone into this policy and it was not a decision which was taken lightly and the Union of India was mindful and cognisant of the situation.

The bench had asked the petitioners, who have challenged the Centre's short-term military recruitment scheme Agnipath, as to which of their rights have been violated and said it was voluntary and those having any problem should not join the armed forces under it.

It had said the Agnipath scheme has been formed by experts in the Army, Navy and Air Force, and judges were not military experts.

One of the petitioners' counsel had said that after being recruited under the scheme, the Agniveers will have life insurance of Rs 48 lakh in case of contingency which is much less than the existing one.

Whatever the armed forces personnel are entitled to, these Agniveers will get them only for four years, the counsel had argued, adding that if the service would have been for five years, they would have been entitled to gratuity.

The Centre had earlier filed its consolidated reply to several petitions against the Agnipath scheme as well as those concerning the recruitment processes for the armed forces under certain previous advertisements and has said there was no legal infirmity in it.

The government submitted that the Agnipath scheme was introduced in the exercise of its sovereign function to make national security and defence more "robust, "impenetrable" and "abreast with changing military requirements".

One of the petitions before the high court has sought a direction to the armed forces to resume the recruitment process which has been cancelled due to the introduction of the Agnipath scheme and prepare the final merit list after conducting a written examination within a stipulated time.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the high courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand to transfer the PILs against the Agnipath scheme pending before them to the Delhi High Court or keep it pending till a decision from the Delhi High Court is delivered, if the petitioners before it so desire

 

Tags: pleas challenging agnipath scheme, agnipath scheme, delhi high court
Location: India, Delhi