A fresh plea has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s ’Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the armed forces. The petition filed by ex-servicemen Ravindra Singh Shekhawat has sought quashing of notification issued by the Ministry of Defence, contending it as illegal, unconstitutional, and ultra vires to the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The recently launched scheme has received skepticism nationwide from the armed forces aspirants and has left several questions unanswered. Some of the concerns are related to the aspirants who were in the middle/final stages of their recruitment process. This abrupt change in the recruitment process has evoked several unforeseeable circumstances for the aspirants and has put their futures at stake/ in the dark. The scheme fails to accommodate the individuals who have been preparing for the armed forces for the last many years and have not been able to participate in the recruitment process due to lack of vacancies due to Covid-19, the plea said.
The petition contended that this scheme jeopardizes the future of aspirants who have already successfully gone through the rigorous selection process of the armed forces once, compelling these individuals to initiate a fresh start for the selection process under the Agnipath Scheme. As there is no assurance for these candidates to receive recruitment in the armed forces for which they have already qualified, the time devoted by these candidates for the preparation has gone down the drain.
There is no assurance if these individuals will qualify for the Agnipath scheme and despite years of hard work and qualifying for the exam, no fruitful purpose has been served to these candidates, the plea filed through advocate Rohit Pandey said. The plea has also sought directions to constitute a committee of Veterans, the Chief of all the Armed Forces, and other appropriate persons to look into the proposed scheme.
It has also sought direction to initiate a ’Pilot Project’, to study the cause and effect of the Agnipath Scheme, and the impact of the newly introduced training process on combat effectiveness, operational readiness, and defence preparedness. Several petitions have been filed against the scheme in the apex court.
The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age of 17-and-a-half and 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Protests have erupted in several states against the scheme. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.