Friday, November 20, 2015

Expanded bench to hear key Indian case

The Tribune reports that on December 3 a larger bench of the Supreme Court of India will hear an important case about judicial review of decisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal:
The Supreme Court has referred the case pertaining to the jurisdiction of high courts over orders passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) to a larger bench after observing that prima facie the apex court’s decision of March 2015 barring the high courts from hearing appeals against AFT orders may be contrary to the law laid down by of a seven-bench Constitutional Bench.

The larger bench would be constituted by the Chief Justice of India. Taking up a petition that sought that appeals against AFT orders be heard by the high courts, the SC has held that it would be appropriate that the matter be heard by a larger bench of three judges. The case would now be heard on December 3.

The SC judgement of March had ruled that high courts did not have jurisdiction to review AFT orders and any appeal against AFT orders would lay directly with the apex court.

Section 31 of the AFT Act provides that appeals cannot be filed in the SC unless the case involves a “point of law of general public importance”. The SC has also held that issues such as pension, promotions, pay scales, etc. do not fall in the category of “public importance”. The March order had virtually deprived serving and retired petitioners from the armed forces, many of them aged and disabled soldiers, the right to appeal against AFT orders, thereby making the AFT the first and last court to redress their grievances.
H/T to Maj. (ret) Navdeep Singh for bringing this development to Global Military Justice Reform's attention. 

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