The Supreme Court has extended the term of three Administrative Members of the Armed Forces Tribunal for a period of two months. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde passed the order after noting that connected matters were posted for hearing in the next month.
“The term of three administrative members of the Armed Forces Tribunal was extended for a period of one month by an Order of this Court dated July 16, 2020. “As all the connected matters are scheduled to be listed for hearing on September 9, 2020, we deem it appropriate that the term of three administrative members of the Armed Forces Tribunal is extended for a period of two more months,” the bench said. According to section 5 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, the tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson, and such number of Judicial and Administrative Members as the Central Government may deem fit.
A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Chairperson unless he is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, as per the Act. The Armed Forces Tribunal Bar Association had written to the apex court in 2016 seeking appointment of judicial members of AFTs claiming that the work there has almost come to a "standstill".
In the letter to then Chief Justice T S Thakur, copies of which was sent to Defence Minister and Law Minister, Secretary of the AFT (Principal Bench) Bar Association, said there were only five benches functional out of a total of 17, which had resulted in a lack of access to justice to military personnel, disabled soldiers and even widows of defence personnel.