'Agnipath' scheme: Supreme Court directs Registrar General to transfer various PILs to Delhi High Court

The  Supreme Court directions came after hearing advocates Kumud Lata Das and ML Sharma for petitioners and SG Tushar Mehta for respondents. Various petitions were filed before the court challenging the Agnipath recruitment scheme for defence forces. 

  • The SC directed Registrar General to transfer various pleas challenging the 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment in the armed forces to Delhi High Court
  • The SC bench also directed the High Courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand to transfer the PILs pending before them to the Delhi HC
  • The top court directions came after hearing advocates Kumud Lata Das and ML Sharma for petitioners and SG Tushar Mehta for respondents

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'Agnipath' scheme: Supreme Court directs Registrar General to transfer various PILs to Delhi High Court

New Delhi: The  Supreme Court on Tuesday (July 19) directed Registrar General to various pleas challenging the 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment in the armed forces to Delhi High Court. A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and A S Bopanna also directed the High Courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand to transfer the PILs pending before them against the scheme to the Delhi HC or keep it pending till a decision from the latter if the petitioners before it so desire, said a PTI report.

The apex court bench reportedly said that petitioners before the four high courts can also opt to intervene in the proceedings before the Delhi High Court, adding that it is transferring the pleas as it would be appropriate if it has the benefit of the Delhi HC's considered view on them. The Delhi High Court is asked to consider all the transferred PILs along with the pleas which are already pending before it expeditiously on this issue.

The top court directions came after hearing advocates Kumud Lata Das and ML Sharma for petitioners and SG Tushar Mehta for respondents. Various petitions were filed before the court challenging the Agnipath recruitment scheme for defence forces. 

The Centre has also filed a caveat application in the Supreme Court urging it to hear the government in the petitions filed before the top court challenging the Agnipath recruitment scheme for defence forces. A Caveat application is filed by a litigant to ensure that no adverse order is passed against him or her without being heard.

Advocate Harsh Ajay Singh has filed a PIL seeking directions to the Centre to reconsider its Agnipath recruitment scheme for armed forces. The plea said the announcement of the scheme has caused 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`.

The advocate also sought a stay in the implementation of the scheme from June 24, 2022. Advocate ML Sharma also filed the PIL seeking quashing of the Centre`s notification for the Agnipath scheme saying the scheme is "illegal and unconstitutional". 

Tejashwi slams BJP for asking about caste & religion in Agnipath scheme

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav on Tuesday slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for having caste and religion section under the documents required during the recruitment of Agniveers as the recruitment under the Agnipath scheme commenced across various states in the country, 

Tejashwi Yadav also shared a screenshot of a notification which required the candidates to produce caste and religion certificates. Taking to a micro-blogging site, Yadav slammed the RSS and BJP citing that the `Agniveers will be sorted out or filtered out on the basis of caste. 

Tejashwi tweeted, "Don`t ask the caste of the monk but ask the caste of the soldier. The BJP government of the Sangh runs away from the caste census but asks for caste from the Agniveer brothers who gave their lives for the service of the country. These castes are being asked because the country`s largest casteist organization RSS will later sort out Agniveers on the basis of caste."

Religion certificate was always there: Army officials 

Religion is also required for performing last rites as per religious rituals for recruits who die during training and soldiers who die in harness, ANI quoted Army officials on allegations by Opposition that caste and religion certificates are now being asked for Agniveer scheme.

Army officials further told ANI that requirement for aspirants to submit caste certificates and "if required, religion certificates was always there. No change for Agniveer recruitment scheme in this regard."

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youth between the age of 17-and-a-half and 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year in the wake of protests in several states against the scheme.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defence had said that the Agnipath scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces. It will provide an opportunity to the youth who may be keen to don the uniform by attracting young talent from the society who are more in tune with contemporary technological trends and plough back skilled, disciplined and motivated manpower into the society. 

(With PTI/ANI Inputs)

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