The High Courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna, and Uttarakhand were asked to transfer the PILs pending before them against the Agnipath scheme to the Delhi High Court.

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The Centre’s “Agnipath” scheme for armed services recruitment is being contested in PILs currently before the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday moved those cases to the Delhi High Court. The High Courts of Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Patna, and Uttarakhand were also requested to transfer the PILs currently pending before them regarding the “Agnipath” scheme to the Delhi High Court or to keep them pending until the Delhi High Court makes a decision if the petitioners before it choose to do so. This request was made by a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna. In light of this, we believe that the three writ petitions that were filed with this court should be transferred to the Delhi High Court and given a new number in accordance with Article 226 of the Constitution. Normally, we would have dismissed these petitions by allowing the petitioners to file new petitions with the Delhi High Court, but we are refraining from doing so to avoid further delays in petition withdrawal and new petition filing, the bench added.

The court ordered the top court’s judicial registrar to send the records of the three writ petitions filed in accordance with Article 32 of the constitution to the Delhi High Court’s judicial registrar so that the petitions can be renumbered and presented to the proper bench in accordance with the proper directions of the High Court’s Chief Justice. The Supreme Court acknowledged that other applications had also been submitted to the High Courts of Kerala, Patna, Punjab and Haryana, and Uttarakhand. “It would be appropriate to direct that the copy of the present order be placed on record of the proceedings in each of the High Courts by the counsel appearing on behalf of Union of India in those proceedings”, it said.

The bench said that the High Courts must give petitioners who filed cases under Article 226 the choice of having their cases transferred in accordance with the current directives or, alternatively, keeping them pending by allowing them to participate in the Delhi High Court’s proceedings. It stated: “In the event that the petitioners prefer the former course of action, the proceedings pending before each High Court shall be transferred to the Delhi High Court for being heard concurrently with the pending proceedings and the proceedings which are being transferred as a result of this order.” The bench stated that should the petitioners not wish to pursue that course of action, the High Courts shall maintain the status of those petitions, and petitioners will be free to intervene before the Delhi High Court in order to have a full opportunity to present their arguments before the Delhi High Court in the ongoing proceedings.

The bench stated, “In the event that any petitions are submitted afterwards, the concerned high court shall pursue the same course of action which we have described in the above terms.” It stated that all petitioners would be free to file applications with the Delhi High Court and that a copy of this order would be entered into the public record. The bench stated, “We request the Delhi High Court for expedited disposal of the writ petitions after hearing the parties,” adding that the UOI shall see that a copy of this order is promptly brought before the registrar judicial of the relevant High Courts. Advocate Kumud Lata Singh announced at the onset that they were contesting the Centre’s judgement about the “Agnipath” scheme intended for armed forces recruitment.

Speaking on behalf of the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that numerous petitions have been filed in various States and that it would be proper for the top court or any High Court to hear them all. He said that because the Delhi High Court was now hearing a substantive petition, all PILs filed with other High Courts might be moved there. The bench stated that it could alternatively send the Delhi High Court all three of the PILs filed today because it would be appropriate to hear the High Court’s thoughtful opinion. The bench said, “We can also allow petitioners to intervene before the High Courts so that they do not feel cheated.

In a related appeal, attorney ML Sharma claims that the government’s announcement of the programme should be revoked because it has truncated the careers of more than 70,000 candidates who have completed training and were awaiting employment letters prior to the outbreak. Sharma claimed that numerous applications, including the one in the Delhi High Court, were submitted after he filed the one in the highest court. The bench declared, “Dear Mr Sharma, this is a PIL. You are not going to be an Agniveer. If anything, you’re more of a Veer than an Agniveer “.

Sharma claimed that his petition has a pan-Indian impact, to which the bench responded that this does not need the Supreme Court to hear every case and that it would be reasonable to weigh the High Court’s perspective. The Agnipath programme, which was unveiled on June 14, calls for the recruitment of 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. Against the plan, demonstrations have started in a number of states. Later, the government raised the maximum age for enlistment this year to 23.

Mayank Tewari


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