Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Indian military justice: waiting for Godot, or for Modi?

Trouble at the Armed Forces Tribunal, but who will fix it? This op-ed by Deepak Sinha, an Indian veteran who has lost patience observes:
The military justice system is in jeopardy and is only surviving due to the efforts of the [Supreme Court] and serving members in the Armed Forces Tribunal

It is no secret that what differentiates us from countries like Pakistan is our commitment to the rule of law. However bruised or battered our justice system may be, it still continues to be trusted and it delivers, albeit rather slowly. This, however, does not hold true for the health of the military justice system, which has been in serious jeopardy for the last three years or so. That it continues to survive on the respirator and provide justice is only because of the extraordinary efforts of the Supreme Court and serving members in the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). This state of affairs can directly be attributed to the shenanigans of senior bureaucrats in the Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, who were caught out when they first attempted to subvert the independence and functioning of the AFT by way of enacting new rules through a Gazette Notification issued under the Finance Act, 2017. In this, they changed the selection criteria and procedures for the appointment of the chairperson and members, especially with regard to that of the administrative members. Whether this was done with the tacit approval of their political bosses, is moot.

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