Supreme Court transfers PILs pending against Agnipath scheme to Delhi High Court – Careers360

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday transferred PILs pending before it, challenging the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the Armed forces to Delhi High Court. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna also asked the High Courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna, and Uttarakhand to transfer the PILs pending before them against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme to Delhi High Court or keep it pending till a decision from the Delhi High Court if the petitioners before it so desires.
“In this backdrop, we are of the view the three writ petitions which have been instituted before this court should be transferred to the Delhi High Court and renumbered under Article 226 of the constitution. Ordinarily, we would have disposed of these petitions by granting liberty to the petitioners to move the Delhi High Court afresh but we are desisting from following that course of action, to obviate any further delay in withdrawal of the petitions and filing of fresh petitions”, the bench said.
The bench directed the registrar judicial of the top court shall accordingly transmit the record of the three writ petitions filed under Article 32 of the constitution to the registrar judicial of Delhi High Court so that the petitions can be renumbered and be placed before the appropriate bench in terms of the appropriate directions of the Chief Justice of the High Court. The top court said that it is being apprised of the fact that several petitions have been filed also before 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 shall furnish an option to petitioners who have moved those petitions under Article 226 to either have their petitions transferred in pursuance of the present directions or in the alternative keep those pending by granting liberty to intervene in the proceedings before the Delhi High Court. “In the event, that the petitioners desire the former course of action, the proceedings before each High Court shall be transferred to the Delhi High Court for being heard together with the pending proceedings and the proceedings which are being transferred as a result of this order”, it said. The bench said that should the petitioners not desire to follow that course of action, the High Courts shall keep those petitions pending and petitioners will be at liberty to intervene before the Delhi High Court so that they have full opportunity to espouse their contentions before the Delhi High Court in the pending proceedings.
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“In the event that any petitions are filed hereafter the same course of action which we have indicated in the above terms shall be followed by the concerned high court”, the bench said. It said that copy of this order be placed on record and all the petitioners would be at liberty to move the applications before the Delhi High Court. “We request the Delhi High Court for expeditious disposal of the writ petitions after hearing the parties,” the bench said, adding that the UOI shall ensure that copy of this order is immediately placed before the registrar judicial of the concerned High Courts. At the outset, advocate Kumud Lata Singh, appearing for one Harsh Ajay Singh said that they have challenged the Centre’s decision of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme meant for recruitment in the Armed forces.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that several petitions have been filed across different States and it would be appropriate if all the petitions are heard by the top court or anyone High Court. He said that a substantive petition is pending before the Delhi High Court and therefore all the PILs filed across different High Court could be transferred to Delhi High Court. The bench said that it can also send all these three PILs listed today to the Delhi High Court as it would be appropriate to have a considered view of the High Court. “We can also give liberty to petitioners before the High Courts to intervene so that they do not feel cheated”, the bench said.
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Advocate ML Sharma, who has also filed a separate petition, said he seeks the cancellation of the government’s notification about the scheme as more than 70,000 aspirants who have undergone training were waiting for their appointment letters before the pandemic and now their career has been shortened by the scheme. Sharma said that after he filed the petition in the top court, several petitions including the one in Delhi High Court were filed. The bench said, “This is a PIL Mr. Sharma. You are not a prospective Agniveer. You may be a Veer but certainly not an Agniveer”.
Sharma said that his petition has the pan-India effect to which the bench said that Pan-India does not mean that the apex court will have to hear everything and it would be appropriate to have a considered view of the High Court. 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. Protests had erupted in several states against the scheme. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year.
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