Saturday, July 18, 2015

Military litigation advisory committee named in India

The Indian Ministry of Defence has established a high-level 5-member committee to look into issues surrounding the epidemic of military personnel litigation, according to this report in the Indian Express. Excerpt:
In a major decision aimed at reducing the litigations and disputes in various courts across the country as well as in the apex court pertaining to defence personnel, the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, has directed that a committee of eminent retired Army officers and legal experts be constituted to suggest remedial measures. 
Sources in the Ministry of Defence informed that the committee would also be recommending broad institutional changes relating to to mechanisms for redressal of grievances and would holistically examine resolution of issues which have led to massive litigations pending. 
A senior officer informed that the committee has been commissioned taking into account the renewed perspective in the government that focus should be on core functioning of ministries and disputes should be resolved at the in-house so that aggrieved employees are not forced to approach courts. 
The five member committee would include Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Maj Navdeep Singh [a long-time Global Military Justice Reform contributor] and Maj DP Singh, a disabled veteran who lost a limb in the Kargil conflict in 1999. Apart from the two, former Adjutant General of the Army, Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal (retd) and former Military Secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare (retd) and a former Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Army are expected to be members of the committee.
This is an excellent initiative, and MoD is to be commended for assembling this committee. Some questions: will the committee's proceedings be open to the public and will its charter be broad enough to include improving the statutory structure for collateral review of military personnel and military justice decisions? Perhaps MoD will establish a website at which members of the public and military personnel might share their thoughts on possible ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. One or more public meetings to hear from affected individuals and groups might also be a good idea. And finally, will the Ministry consider making this committee a standing body, rather than a one-time affair. That question, of course, will be a function of how productive the committee proves to be first time out.

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