reports that the Defence Ministry has agreed in principle to reforms in the country's military justice system. Excerpt:
This would mean setting up permanent courts to try cases related to military personnel and formulating a common code for all services. There is also a proposal to set up a permanent prosecution department for the forces and introduce a cadre of independent military judges rather than ad hoc juries with members who are not judicially trained.What other democracies are critically reviewing their military justice systems right now? U.S. -- check. Canada -- check. Who else? [Please comment, and give your name. No anonymous or pseudonymous comments.]
Decision has been taken after considering the report of the defence minister's committee of experts, which was submitted in November 2015.
The service Acts of the Indian military - the Army Act and the Air Force Act - were enacted in 1950. The Navy Act came in 1957. There has been a standing demand for years to update these laws. On several occasions, the Supreme Court has asked the ministry to show restraint while exercising these archaic laws. Most of the military laws, enacted soon after Independence, are modelled on laws that the British left behind. Experts say under this system, an accused soldier doesn't get the minimum degree of decency and fair play during litigation. Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer [and Global Military Justice Reform contributor] Major Navdeep Singh, who was also a member of the defence minister's expert committee said, "It is a great that the defence minister has accepted our recommendation on military justice reform. The system needs to be recalibrated with changing times and the much cherished constitutional principle of separation of powers."
Mahavir Chakra awardee Brigadier K S Chandpuri (retd) says, "We have been following colonial rules. Then, jawans were recruited on the basis of their fitness. Today's jawan is much more educated and deserves a better judicial system."