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Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)

  • Published
    14th Oct, 2023

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has refused to interfere with the transfer of Justice Dharam Chand Choudhary, who was a judicial member with the Armed Forces Tribunal Chandigarh, to Kolkata.

About the case:
  • Justice Choudhary's transfer led to protests and a strike by the AFT Chandigarh Bar Association, asserting it as an infringement on the tribunal's judicial independence.
  • They alleged that the transfer resulted from his refusal to yield to pressure from the Ministry of Defence.
  • The association sought Chief Justice Chandrachud's intervention, terming the transfer a direct challenge to the tribunal's autonomous functioning.

Armed Forced Tribunal (AFT):

  • It is a Statutory Body, made under The Armed Forces Tribunal Act 2007, which was passed by the Parliament.
  • The Body provides power for the adjudication or trial by Armed Forces Tribunal of disputes and complaints with respect to commission, appointments, enrolments and conditions of service in respect of persons subject to the Army Act, 1950, The Navy Act, 1957 and the Air Force Act, 1950.
  • It can further provide for appeals arising out of orders, findings or sentences of courts- martial held under the armed forces Acts and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Besides the Principal Bench in New Delhi, AFT has Regional Benches at Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Jabalpur, Srinagar and Jaipur.
  • With the exception of the Chandigarh and Lucknow Regional Benches, which have three benches each, all other locations have a single bench.
  • Members of the Tribunal:
    • Each Bench comprises of a Judicial Member and an Administrative Member.
    • The Judicial Members are retired High Court Judges and Administrative Members are retired Members of the Armed Forces who have held rank of Major General/ equivalent or above for a period of three years or more.

Judge Advocate General (JAG), who has held the appointment for at least one year are also entitled to be appointed as the Administrative Member.

  • The Tribunal shall transact their proceedings as per the Armed Forces Tribunal (Procedure) rules, 2008.
  • All proceedings in the Tribunal will be in English.
  • The Tribunal will normally follow the procedure as is practiced in the High Courts of India.
  • The dress as mandated for the officials of the Tribunal including bar will be white shirt, collar band and a black coat/ jacket.
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