Do you know the answers to these basic questions about your Defence Services?
1. What does it mean to be a Commissioned Officer? Why are Defence Officers “Commissioned Officers” while IAS, IPS, etc. are not?
2. Why is it that the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces is the President of India and not the Prime Minister, whereas all other Central Govt Services are under the control of the Prime Minister?
3. Have you read the Primary and Secondary Roles assigned to the Defence Forces by the Constitution of India?
4. In what Article of the Constitution of India are defence personnel permitted to prefix “Title of Ranks”, while civil counterparts cannot prefix any Title?
5. How are officers in the Defence Forces appointed and how and why does their oath differ from that of a civil servant?
6. Why is the parchment of commission authenticated by a (military) General and not by any civil officer?
7. Under what constitutional provision is the military obligated to intervene and declare martial law in the country?
8. Constitutionally, is the military subordinate to the PM and his cabinet?
9. Why are Defence Officers never on election duty?
10. When and why did the Army Chief caution Indira Gandhi in writing to remain within the limits of the Constitution?
11. Why is it that baboo(n)s continue to reduce the status of defence service personnel?
12. What are the constitutional provisions for the status and service conditions of the Defence Forces?
13. What are the powers of a Commissioned Officer which are not vested with civilian officers?
14. What does the Constitution say about inter se seniority of defence services and other civilian services such as IAS, IPS, etc.?
15. Does the Govt have a legal right to downgrade status and compensations of the Defence Forces since they are in power?
16. Why does the military not go to court to resolve its issues of status and pay parity?
17. What happened to the promised white paper on the problems and also formation of a military commission?
This blog is an attempt to answer 'Frequently Asked Questions' on issues of military. The questions answers given are not a complete set and shall be kept updated time to time.
Question 6. Constitutionally, what are the roles of the defense forces?
If seen in the backdrop of above constitutional provisions, the roles of Indian Defense Forces are:
1. Primary Role. To defend Indian Constitution and democracy against any of the following threats:
a. Any external aggression or threat in any form on the geo-political and economic interests of India, territories under the political control of Indian Govt and Indian constitution. The external threat may not be always in form of military invasions. It may appear in form of externally abetted political assassinations, cyber or economic wars, threatening geo-poltical alliances or posturing etc.
b. Any internal threat endangering functioning of the constitution and democracy which may be in forms of armed rebellion or political takeover by a civilian dictator.
2. Secondary Role. To assist civil administration in maintenance of law and order and in case of natural calamities, disasters and disturbances only when requisitioned.
Please note that defenses forces can act in their secondary roles only when requisitioned. However for preforming their primary roles, no such orders or requisition are required. However as long as an elected political govt under parliamentary democracy is functioning, defense forces will always seek their political directions before any action. In case such govt seize to exist or nuke attacks have obliterated such govt or a civilian dictator has taken over violating constitution or any state govt has rebelled or any armed rebellion has seized any part of territory/ govt administration, defense forces will act under the military authority as vested in them to protect constitution and shall not wait for any political directions.
If seen in backdrop of article 310, that is not correct. Over a period of time IAS officers have taken advantage of their certain appointments and closeness to politicians. Corrupt, greedy and insecure politicians have obliged them, as in elections IAS officers are appointed returning officers responsible to check validity of their nomination papers, their election canvassing activities and spending of funds. In fact it is this appointment which makes them a kind of masters of Indian Elections. It is the IAS officer as DM, who announces results of vote counting. When in multi corner elections where victory margins are thin, such officers naturally can oblige politicians. It is this relationship between politicians and IAS officers which has given unjustified advantage to IAS. In most of the democracy. No civil servant is given the responsibility of being a returning officer. In US, civil servants only oversee checks over political spending, in Pakistan, these are judicial officers who are nominated as returning officers. The present practice is harmful to Indian Democracy and parliament must take note of it?
Nevertheless constitutionally, following shall answer the question about the correct position on the standing of officers of defense forces with officers of IAS and other All India Services :
Comparison of Constitutional Status of Defense Officers and IAS including Officers of All India Services
1. Sovereign Executive Military Authority is an exclusive domain of military officers exercised through powers and chain of command. Under such authority nations are destroyed or made. Political directions for military actions at macro levels are given by elected govt in a functional democracy. Under article 34 defense forces have been made silent and invisible custodian of Indian democracy with a responsibility to keep it intact. No such powers in civil domain to any civil officer.
2. Authority to form political Govt is an exclusive domain of political civil Govt in a functional democracy on mandate of 'we the people'. However in certain situations with approval of elected civil political authorities and if it doesn't exist then own its own, officers of the defense officers form a political govt in any external captured territory and anywhere within the country. Examples are when military formed Govts in Haydrabad, Goa and Junagarh within the country and in Bangladesh and Jaffna; Sri Lanka abroad. Such govt can be led by any military officer or any other person so authorized by responsible military commander. Adjutant General of the Army HQ is responsible for the subject. Only officers of the rank of Brigadier and above are authorized to declare formation of such govt. That is the reason rank of Brigadier was and should be equated with the appointment of secretary of Govt of India. Same is the practice world over in most democracies. No such authority is vested in any of the officers of all India services. All civil officers serve under the command of military commanders under the military govts.
3. Judicial Powers Any commissioned officer can be nominated to the military court as a Judge. Military officers of the rank of Captain and above exercise judicial powers of a session judge and can give death sentences. In case of SGCM, an officer of the rank of Captain and above can nominate himself as judge and can give death sentence in a summary trial. He in this case can also confirm the sentence given by himself on behalf of president and give orders for its execution without reference to any court and civil authority. No right of appeal is given to the accused. Military Laws can be made applicable to civilians either by notification by central govt or under martial laws. Legal validity of the courts formed under martial laws has the sanction of Supreme Court. No such powers or authority is held by any officer of the all India services.
4. Powers of Magistrate. Powers of magistrate is more of a civilian concept when a civilian officer is given part of executive authority of the state by virtue of he/her holding an appointment or given for a period. Military works on the concept of command where executive powers of state are inherent in powers of command of Military officers by virtue of holding commission or authority to exercise such powers. In case of military, powers of command are given down to NCO levels. In aid to civil authority military Non Commissioned Officers, has the powers to order fire. Such orders in case of civil can only be given by a Civil magistrate. These powers are not inherent as is the case of military officers. IAS officers exercise powers of magistrate as returning officers for an election. It is this appointment which gives advantage to them to illegally oblige politicians and makes them powerful over others.
5. Administrative Powers Exercised as authorized by defense officers as well as officers of all India services.
Please note, IAS officers or other officers of all India services exercise executive powers of state only when they have powers of magistrate or holding a specified appointment where as executive authority of the state are inherent to all commissioned officers by virtue of they holding commission on behalf of President. Nature of job of officers of all India services is more as administrative whereas in case of defense officers it is pre-dominantly executive. That is the reason article 310, puts officers of defense forces in senior most order than officers of all India services and other civil services. Yes it is also true constitutionally that IAS officer have no legal standing to claim seniority or preference over IPS, IRS or IFS. Their present superior status is illegal and has been created with help of politicians as they are the only one who can become returning officers to conduct elections.
Question 10. The word defending the constitution are neither mentioned in Oath and Nor in commission parchment, then how are officers of the defense forces responsible for defending the constitution?
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