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Delhi: High Court To Hear Pleas Challenging ‘Agnipath’ Scheme On Nov 18

Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday listed for hearing on November 18 a bunch of pleas challenging the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme while granting time to the petitioners to file rejoinders.

New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court on Wednesday listed for hearing on November 18 a bunch of pleas challenging the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme while granting time to the petitioners to file rejoinders.

The High Court on Wednesday was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Centre has filed a consolidated reply copy in the matters recently. The bench noted the submissions of counsel who appeared for several petitioners praying for time to file rejoinders in the matters, and fixed the matter for hearing on November 18, 2022.

The central government through its reply has informed the Delhi High Court that no prejudice has been caused to any of the candidates who had participated in the earlier recruitment process. The Centre has filed a consolidated reply copy in a batch of petitions challenging the Agnipath scheme regarding recruitment in the armed forces.

The affidavit filed stated that it is well settled that the Central Government is duly empowered and competent enough to change the mode and method of recruitment in government service taking into account the exigencies of the military requirements.

The said decision falls within the realm of ‘sovereign’ policymaking functions of the Central Government, and the scope of judicial review is extremely limited.

Furthermore, it is pertinent to mention here that recruitment in the ‘armed forces’ stands on a completely different footing vis-a-vis employment in public offices, as it constitutes an essential sovereign function, which directly relates to the maintenance of national security.

Therefore, the Central Government in the exercise of its sovereign power and to effectively and efficiently safeguard the security and integrity of the country is duly empowered to change the policy providing the mode and methods/service conditions of the persons who are to be employed in the armed forces, stated the affidavit.

The decision of the central government to make recruitment through a new ‘Agnipath’ scheme, therefore, constitutes a policy decision taken by the government for national security reasons, it further stated.

The Delhi High Court on the last date of the hearing had asked the Centre Government through concerned ministries to file a consolidated response in a batch of petitions challenging the Agnipath scheme in regards to the recruitment in Armed forces.

The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad is examining the bunch of petitions. Earlier, the bench refused to put a stay on the Agnipath scheme and said if petitioners get success in the case, they will get it. We will not pass any stay or interim order and will hear the case finally, added the bench.

On July 19, the Supreme Court transferred various pleas related to Agnipath scheme to Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court also clarified that as regards to other similar petitions challenging Agnipath pending in other various High Courts, the concerned HCs should either give an option to the petitioners to either have their petitions transferred to the Delhi HC or to keep their petitions pending with liberty to petitioners to intervene in Delhi High Court.

The top court had also requested the Delhi HC to take up the matter and dispose it expeditiously. High Courts of Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand are hearing matters connected to these schemes, noted SC.

The SC directions come after hearing advocates Kumud Lata Das and M L Sharma for petitioners and SG Tushar Mehta for respondents.

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A petition challenging the scheme stated that the announcement of the scheme has caused nationwide protests in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and various other states due to the short-term duration of the scheme in the Indian Army for four years coupled with future uncertainties of the trained ‘Agniveers’.

A PIL in this regards also sought quashing of the Centre’s notification for the Agnipath scheme saying the scheme is “illegal and unconstitutional”.

The Union Cabinet on June 14, 2022, approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the three services of the Armed Forces called ‘Agnipath’ and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.

Agnipath allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. The Agnipath scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by HW News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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