President inaugurates Armed Forces Tribunal

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New Delhi, Aug 8 (ANI): Marking it as an important milestone in the history of the Armed Forces in India, President Pratibha Patil today inaugurated the long-awaited Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

"The establishment of the Armed Forces Tribunal an exclusive court for the members of the Army, Navy and the Air Force will enhance their confidence and trust levels in the system of dispensation of justice in relation to their service matters," said President Patil.

At present, about 9,000 such cases are pending before various courts across the country, most of them with the high courts.

Apart from the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts, she said that the Tribunal would have exclusive jurisdiction in nearly all issues relating to the conditions of their service ranging from tenure to seniority, promotion and pension benefits.

With the inauguration of the Tribunal, aggrieved armed forces personnel will now be able to appeal against sentences handed down by the court-martial.

"Tribunal will also act as the appellate forum for the Armed Forces personnel against verdicts of court-martial. This meets a prime demand of the forces," she added.

The President said that the Tribunal will conduct its work in a manner, which ensures that cases are handled expeditiously, and proceedings are completed as soon as possible.

"The list of cases alongwith their date of hearing should be put online. There should be predictability in court hearings and adjournments granted only in very exceptional circumstances. It should be particularly careful in avoiding the build up of backlogs," she said.onsisting of both judicial and administrative members, the President said: "It is in a position to dispense justice by combining legal knowledge with a complete input of the ground realities in which the Armed Forces operate."

"This Tribunal will set standards of reference even for other courts in terms of ethics, systematic working methodology and equitable justice," the President added.

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. (ANI)

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