The Supreme Court on Friday disposed of a suo motu case taken on regular appointments of judicial members in Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).
A Bench comprising of Justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh had noted that at the relevant time, the top Court had taken suo motu cognizance for not appointing judicial members in the AFT which resulted in denial of justice. And also, in the absence of judicial members, even orders passed were by the Tribunal were not being executed.
The Bench was apprised today by way of a November 15 notification, the Government of India had made 23 appointments to the AFT out of which 11 appointments are of judicial members and remaining are administrative members.
On these grounds, the Bench closed the present suo motu proceedings.
During the hearing, one of the advocates pointed out that there were ancillary issues which had to be considered.
Justice Shah said,
"It is suo motu plea, we decide when to close it. For other issues, you can challenge."
The Bench then granted liberty to the parties to ventilate other grievances before an appropriate public forum.
In 2020, the Court had extended the term of three Administrative Members of the AFT who were scheduled to retire in July and August that year for a period of one month from the dates of their retirement.
While doing so, the Court had also asked the Union of India to consider making regular appointments in accordance with the earlier recommendations.
"In the meantime, the Union of India may make the regular appointments in accordance with the recommendations already made.", the three-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India SA Bobde observed in the order.
As per Section 5 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson, and such number of Judicial and Administrative Members.
The Chairperson of AFT has to be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court. A Judicial Member have to be retired High Court judge.
Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Justice Rajendra Menon is the present Chairperson of the AFT.
Case Title: In Re: Appointment of Judicial Members in the Armed Forces Tribunal v. Ministry of Defence And Anr. WP(C) No. 857/2016 PIL