-Report by Ishika Sehgal
The Union government’s “Agnipath” scheme is being contested, and the Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments next week. According to the news agency PTI, a statement has been made by a bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari that, When the Supreme Court reopens after its summer break, cases challenging the recruiting plan would be listed before the relevant bench.
Notably, on June 21, the Union government submitted a caveat motion to the Supreme Court pleading with it to hear the government in the petitions brought before it contesting the “Agnipath” defense force recruitment plan. A petitioner filed a caveat application to ensure that no unfavorable judgment is rendered against them without a hearing. According to advocate ML Sharma, the Agneepath scheme is “illegal and unconstitutional,” so he filed a PIL to
have the Centre’s notification of it quashed. Sharma claims in the PIL that the government invalidated the 100-year-old mechanism for choosing the armed forces, which led to the violation of the constitution.
The Agnipath program, unveiled on June 14, calls for recruiting young people between the ages of 17 and 21 for only four years, with the option to keep 25% of them for an additional 15 years. Protests against the idea have already begun in a number of states. Later, the government increased the hiring age limit from 18 to 23 beginning in 2022.
The appeal also mentions nationwide demonstrations against the plan. It has asked for permission to form an expert committee with a former high court judge as its head to investigate the scheme and its effects on the Army and national security. Attorney Kumud Lata Das brought up a petition submitted by potential air force members for urgent mentioning before a vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwar. The attorney argued that the method shouldn’t be applied to people who are currently going through the selection process.
According to her submission, the Agnipath system will reduce the applicants’ term from 20 years to 4 years. The counsel continued,
“The 31 selected candidates who are awaiting their enlistment as Airmen in the IAF in Group X Trades and Group Y for Intake 02/21 conducted by the Central Airmen Selection Board (CASB) preferred the petition under Article 32 in response to the advertisement dated 11.12.2019 for which online applications were requested from 08.01.2020 to 12.01.2020 for both Group X and Group Y streams. Despite numerous mentions, the Registry has not provided a specific date of listing.”
The petitioners were shortlisted and the provisional list was announced on May 31, 2021. However, for administrative reasons, there was no recruitment. The petitioners claimed that on June 14, the Central Government notified the Agnipath plan without concluding the enrolment procedure for 02/2021. They contend that they are not at fault for the recruiting process’s delay and that the authorities cannot stop their hiring now.