A series of MoD responses to queries under the Right to Information (RTI) Act illustrate the ministry's hold over the AFT. The answers reveal the MoD's control over foreign trips by AFT members and the ministry's grant of canteen shopping facilities to retired judges who are 'Judicial Members' on AFT benches, based on the logic that they are "MoD employees". The responses reveal that 'Administrative Members' on AFT benches, who are retired generals, are called in by army formations to "sensitise" them to the cases they are hearing.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has already directed in a judgment on November 20, 2012, that the AFT be "brought within the control of the department of justice in the ministry of law & justice". Cited in this judgment is an earlier Supreme Court ruling that directs that the different departmental tribunals (such as the AFT) should all be brought under a "wholly independent agency" under the law ministry, which must "try to ensure that the independence of the members of all such Tribunals is maintained".
The views expressed by the author are personal.
By the kind courtesy of Business Standard