New Delhi, Aug 8 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the long-awaited Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) today.
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.
The Tribunal will have 15 courts in all, - three each in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Lucknow and one each in Jaipur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai and Kochi.
Aggrieved armed forces personnel will now be able to appeal against sentences handed down by the court-martial. The Tribunal will also have powers to grant bail to any person in military custody. It is expected to be functional soon once the government issues the relevant notification.
The AFT will provide a judicial forum for redressal of grievances of about a 1.3 million strong armed forces personnel and another 1.2 million ex-servicemen.
At present, 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.
The Tribunal will have a Chairperson who has been or is a judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a High Court.
Justice AK Mathur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, has been appointed the AFT's first Chairperson and has assumed charge since September 1, 2008.
Besides, each court consists of a judicial member and an administrative member.
There will be in all 30 members in the 15 courts of the nine AFT benches, - 15 judicial including the Chairperson, and an equal number of administrative members.
The judicial member must be, or have been, a judge of a High Court while the administrative member would be officers of the rank of Major General or equivalent in either of the three Services or an officer not less than the rank of a Brigadier or equivalent who has rendered not less than one year service as the Judge Advocate General of the Army, Navy or Air Force.
The government has already appointed eight judicial members and 15 administrative members, while seven judicial members are yet to be named.
The eight judicial members appointed to the Tribunal alongwith the location of the bench are: - Justice AK Mathur (Chairperson, AFT, Principal Bench, New Delhi, Justice Manak Lall Mohta (New Delhi), Justice Ghanshyam Prasad (Chandigarh), Justice Janardhan Sahai (Lucknow - yet to join), Justice SS Kulshrestha (Lucknow), Justice Bhanwaroo Khan (Jaipur), Justice AC Arumugaperumal Adityan (Chennai) and Justice K Padmanabhan Nair (Kochi). The 15 administrative members are: Lt. General ML Naidu, Lt Gen. ZU Shah and Lt. Gen. SS Dhillon (all New Delhi bench), Lt. Gen. Amrik Singh Bahia, Lt Gen. HS Panag and Lt. Gen. NS Brar (all Chandigarh bench), Lt. Gen. PR Gangadharan, Lt. Gen. RK Chhabra and Lt. Gen. BS Sisodia (all Lucknow bench), Lt. Gen. Susheel Gupta (Jaipur), Vice Admiral RF Contractor (Mumbai), Lt. Gen. Madan Gopal (Kolkata), Commodore Mohan Phadke (Guwahati), Lt. Gen. S Pattabhiraman (Chennai) and Lt. Gen. Thomas Mathew (Kochi). (ANI)