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“We know that in conflict, there is the only outcome that is A Victory.”

– Late General Shri Bipin Rawat (C.D.S.)

The Military1 which is commonly known as The Armed Forces protects a country from its enemies. Having a strong-armed force is very important for any nation-state. It ensures our internal peace, gives security from external threats, helps in maintaining friendly relations, makes us capable of giving humanitarian assistance when needed, helps us in carrying out disaster relief as well as gives us much needed respect and importance in the world pedestal as having a powerful military makes foreign countries honor their agreements and treaties. There are numerous other important benefits to any country in having a robust military.

In India, the military or armed forces are comprised of three wings and they are; The Army2, The Air Force, and The Navy. As the topic suggests our focus here would be on The Indian army and the laws that apply to it.

The Indian Army is the land-based and the largest wing of the Indian armed forces/Indian military which are professionally headed by The Chief of Army Staff who comes under the direct control of The Chief of Defense Staff appointed by The President of India being The Supreme commander of The Armed Forces in India.

Laws applicable to The Army

There are several laws that apply to the army and they are as follows:

  1. The Army Act, 1950;
  2. The Army Rules 1954;
  3. The Territorial Army Act, 1948;
  4. The Regulations for the Territorial Army, 1976; and
  5. The Army and Air Force (Disposal of Private Property) Act, 1950.
  1. The Army Act, 19503
    This Act was made to consolidate and amend laws relating to the regular army. A need for the general revision of the already existing 3 Acts namely The Army Act, 1911; The Navy Discipline Act, 1934; and The Indian Air Force Act, 1932 was felt necessary as the provisions in those Acts were very out of date and insufficient as per the modern requirements after the independence. The need became imperative for obvious reasons and for making the law on the matter a self-sufficient one. The object was also to make all the 3 armed force services similar in form and fulfilling to the demand and special requirements that each service might demand. The Army Act, 1911 had severe punishments and also has not defined the offenses properly as well as the punishments were not based on the gravity of offenses committed. The new 1950 Act also enhanced the status and responsibility of The Army Courts. This new Act was framed to suit the new constitutional setup, to bridge the gap between the army and the civil laws, to bring the new law in conformity with The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The limitation period for commencement of trial was increased from 6 months to 3 years. The power to issue a summons for the production of documents and to compel appearance was introduced. Many other consequential amendments were also made. This Act was passed by The Parliament on 22nd May 1950 and it came into effect on 22nd of July 1950. This Act has been rarely amended and has almost remained the same since it was first enacted.
  2. The Army Rules, 19544
    The rules are an extension of The Army Act, 1950 as they were framed in exercise of the powers conferred by section 191 of the Army Act, 1950. These rules cover the service conditions including enrollment, attestation, oath, affirmation, tenure, transfer, dismissal, discharge and termination from service, release from service on medical grounds, retirement from service, resignation from service, rights of servicemen as well as the restrictions on their rights, the authorities empowered under established commission, and, the rules & procedures of trials. These rules were notified in the official gazette on the 27th of November 1954.
  3. The Territorial Army Act, 19485
    The territorial Army is that part of the regular army that has been relieved from the regular army to perform its duties and assist in civil administration during times of natural calamities and maintenance of essential services when lives of communities and security of the nation are at risk.6 Clear by its name, this Act was introduced to constitute Territorial Army was enacted on the 10th of September 1948.
  4. The Regulations for the Territorial Army, 19487
    The rules are an extension of the Territorial Army Act of, 1948 as well as they supersede the 1948 Act. These rules cover the service conditions i.e. The constitution and establishment, appointment, and duties of commanders, recruitment, appointment, promotion, retention, resignation, transfer and retirement of servicemen, discipline, offenses, punishment, duties, training, uniform, equipment, accommodation of commanders and servicemen as well as it covers finance, reports, returns, books, forms the of organization and of servicemen serving in the Territorial Army. These rules were notified in the official gazette of India on the 2nd of March 1976.
  5. The Army and Air Force (Disposal of Private Property) Act, 19508
    This Act was enacted with the intention to dispose-off the private property of persons who die, desert, are found to be of unsound mind, or are officially reported missing while they were in active service. The Act also makes provision for the appointment of the committee which decides what property belongs to the persons mentioned above and who are persons legally entitled to be his or their legal representatives so that after the due process the property can be handed over to them. This Act was enacted on the 28th of April, 1950, and was enforced on the 22nd Of July, 1950.

There are other laws as well which are relevant to or have provisions relating to the Army such as; The Constitution of India, 1950; The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958; The Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007; The National Service Act, 1972; and The Indian Reserve Forces Act,1888. But these laws are not primarily and specifically focused on Laws relating to Army and hence, they are not covered in this article and are intentionally left for detailed discussion maybe for some other day.


  1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/military
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Army
  3. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/1930/1/AAA1950____46.pdf#search=army
  4. https://www.mod.gov.in/sites/default/files/armyrules1954.pdf
  5. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/1497/1/A1948-56.pdf#search=army
  6. https://indianarmy.nic.in/Site/FormTemplete/frmTempSimple.aspx?MnId=KVkLiCMp4dcbof+pA01XhA==&ParentID=g6xKA8ErVv7s2VzMTl7vZA==#:~:text=The%20Territorial%20Army%20is%20part,Security%20of%20the%20Country%20is
  7. https://indianarmy.nic.in/WriteReadData/Documents/taregulations.pdf
  8. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/2029/1/AAA1950____40.pdf#search=army

Written by Naman Practising Advocate at Patna High Court and student at Gujarat National Law University.

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