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Member Of Air Force Has No Unqualified Right To Leave Service: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
3 July 2019 4:07 PM GMT
Member Of Air Force Has No Unqualified Right To Leave Service: SC [Read Judgment]
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"The interests of the service are of paramount importance."

A person who has been enrolled as a member of the Air Force does not have an unqualified right to depart from service at his or her will during the term of engagement, the Supreme Court has held.Amit Kumar Roy enrolled on 12 January 2004 as an Airman in the Indian Air Force. He applied for the post of General Banking Officer in Bank of India without completing the mandatory period of service...

A person who has been enrolled as a member of the Air Force does not have an unqualified right to depart from service at his or her will during the term of engagement, the Supreme Court has held.

Amit Kumar Roy enrolled on 12 January 2004 as an Airman in the Indian Air Force. He applied for the post of General Banking Officer in Bank of India without completing the mandatory period of service of seven years and without the prior permission of his unit authorities. He got a provisional NOC from the Air Force authorities and joined the bank. Later the authorities cancelled this provisional NOC and called upon him to join duties. He was not given a clean discharge certificate, and thus his services were terminated by Bank of India.

Before the Apex Court, he challenged the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal which dismissed his OA as infructuous. His contention was that he has a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (g) to choose his place of employment. Provisions of Article 19(1)(g) in their application to the members of the Air Force are not any different from their application to any other branch of government, he had contended.

The bench, referred to various provisions of the Air Force Act and also the relevant orders, and observed:

"The provisions of the Air Force Act, those contained in the rules and the terms of engagement of the appellant belie such an assertion. AFO 14/2008 emphasises aspects such as the criticality of the trade and the exigencies of service. They need to be verified and assessed before permission is granted. A person who has been enrolled as a member of the Air Force does not have an unqualified right to depart from service at his or her will during the term of engagement. Such a construction, as urged on behalf of the appellant, will seriously impinge upon manning levels and operational preparedness of the armed forces. With the rapid advancement of technology, particularly in its application to military operations, there has been a reconfiguration of the human and technological requirements of a fighting force. The interests of the service are of paramount importance. A balance has been sought to be drawn between the interests of the service with situations involving requests by persons enrolled to take civilian employment."

However, invoking Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the bench directed the Union of India to issue him the final NOC and discharge certificate, subject to deposit of Rs 3 lakhs within two months by him. 

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