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Supreme Court Says Centre's Agnipath Recruitment Scheme Valid, Not Arbitrary

The Delhi High Court had on February 27 said the Agnipath scheme was formulated in the national interest with a laudable objective of maintaining national security.

Supreme Court Says Centre's Agnipath Recruitment Scheme Valid, Not Arbitrary

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the validity of the Agnipath recruitment scheme while also dismissing two petitions challenging a Delhi High Court judgment that earlier upheld the central recruitment scheme for the armed forces. A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said candidates, who earlier got selected through recruitment processes like rallies, physical and medical tests for the defence forces before the introduction of the Agnipath scheme, do not have a vested right to appointment.

"Sorry, we would not like to interfere with the high court verdict. The high court had dealt with all the aspects", the Supreme Court bench said, while dismissing separate pleas filed by Gopal Krishan and advocate ML Sharma against the high court verdict.

 

 

The bench, however, posted a third fresh plea related to recruitment in the Indian Air Force (IAF) prior to the launch of the Agnipath scheme for hearing on April 17. It asked the Centre to file its response to the third plea related to recruitment in the IAF. On March 27, the top court had agreed to hear pleas filed against the Delhi High Court judgment that upheld the Centre's scheme for recruitment into the armed forces.

Agnipath Scheme Formulated In National Interest

 

The high court had on February 27 said the Agnipath scheme was formulated in the ''national interest with a laudable objective of maintaining national security.'' A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad referred to a series of judgments, which held that “unless a policy decision taken by the Government is demonstrably capricious or arbitrary or if it suffers from the vice of discrimination or infringes any statute or provisions of the Constitution, this Court is not to question the propriety of such a policy decision”.

The Agnipath scheme, unveiled on June 14, lays out rules for the recruitment of youths in the armed forces. Under the scheme, those between 17-and-a-half and 21 years of age are eligible to apply and they would be inducted for a four-year tenure. The scheme allows 25 per cent of them to be granted regular service subsequently. After the scheme was approved by the Centre, protests erupted in several states demanding a rollback.

Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022. On July 19, 2022, the Supreme Court transferred the petitions challenging the scheme to the Delhi high court.