RS passes Armed Forces Tribunal Bill

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New Delhi, Dec 3 (UNI) The Rajya Sabha today passed Armed Forces Tribunal Bill, 2005 to adjudicate complaints and disputes regarding the service matters, appeals arising out of the verdicts of the court martial to the members of the forces and to provide quick and less expensive justice to the members of the Armed Forces of the Union.

Piloting the Bill, Defence Minister A K Antony said establishment of independent Armed Forces Tribunal drawing members from judicial establishments would go a long way to address the problems faced by the three wings of the Armed Forces. There were 12,000 cases pending in Supreme Court and various High Courts of the country and the Tribunal would help address the issue agitating the members of the defence forces.

He said the Bill in its present form was not the perfect one but the government was willing to amend the act keeping the suggestions of the members expressed in the House. The Tribunal would oust the jurisdiction of all courts except the Supreme Court whereby resources of the Armed Forces in terms of manpower, material and time will be conserved besides resulting in expeditious disposal of cases and to reduce the number of cases pending before various courts.

Touching upon the attrition rate in the forces, Mr Antony said firstly the pay pakets available at the entry level was not the best and expressed the hope that the Pay Commission would give attention to this aspect.

The reasons for suicides in the forces was the distance from where the forces are operating thousands of kms away from their families.

There is a need for the State and Central Governments to go back to the old days of paying attention to the problems faced by the family members of the armed forces serving at the country's borders. ''If we can ensure minor comforts for their families, it would go a long way to earn their goodwill,'' he said.

He said the Tribunal need not function only in Delhi but Benches would be established in regions and move to the states at a later stage.

The members were appointed in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Tribunals can pass strictures if Government and the Armed forces took wrong decisions, he reasoned.

The House after an hour-long debate passed the Bill by a voice vote. Those who took part in the debate included Mr Gyan Prakash Pilania, BJP, Mr S Kondappan and Mrs Prema Cariappa, Congress, Mr N Jyoti, AIADMK, Mr Rajniti Prasad, RJD, Mrs N P Durga, TDP, and Mr Rajiv Chandrashekhar, Independent.

UNI

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