Centre files caveat in SC on pleas challenging Agnipath
New Delhi, Jun 21: The Centre has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court and urged that it be heard before the court passes any order on petitions against the Agnipath scheme. The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17.5 to 21 for four years with the provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Protests have erupted in several states against the scheme.
Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. Meanwhile, a fresh petition was filed in the apex court on Monday, seeking a direction to the Centre for reconsideration of the Agnipath scheme. The plea, filed by Harsh Ajay Singh who is an advocate, has sought a direction for the constitution of a committee for providing inputs to the Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence, and also to invite suggestions, including from retired Army officers, for amendments to the scheme for providing job opportunities to 75 per cent Agniveers, post retirement.
"It is respectfully submitted that the petitioner is genuinely concerned about maintenance of law and order in the country and for inviting the opinion of youths of the country whose future is at stake," said the plea, filed through advocate Kumud Lata Das. It said the scheme is to be implemented from June 24 and the announcement of Agnipath scheme has caused nationwide protest in various states, including in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal, due to the short-term duration of four years coupled with "future uncertainties of the trained Agniveers".
The petition alleged that this is a "half-baked reform" with multiple ramifications. "There are various shortcomings in this reform and with further discussion it would have been executed as a better reform," it said. It claimed there is a great possibility of Agniveers trained under the scheme going astray and a four-year recruitment is insufficient to inculcate the values and ethos of the young brigade of Indian armed forces.
The petitioner has also sought to stay implementation of the scheme. Two petitions were earlier filed in the apex court on the issue. One of the petitions has sought a direction to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the damage to public properties, including that of the Railways, and violent protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme. The plea has sought directions to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan governments to submit a status report on the violent protests. It has also sought a direction to set up an expert committee under the chairmanship of a retired apex court judge to examine the scheme and its impact on national security and the Army.
Another petition filed in the top court against the Centre's Agnipath scheme has alleged that the government has quashed the century-old selection process for the Armed forces which is contrary to the constitutional provisions and without having parliamentary approval. The plea has sought to quash the June 14 notification/press note claiming it to be illegal and unconstitutional. PTI