Delhi HC dismisses all pleas challenging Agnipath scheme
HC upholds validity of Centre's Agnipath Scheme: The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the Agnipath scheme and seeking resumption and enrollment as per the previous recruitment scheme in Indian defence services.
"The scheme is made in the national interest and to ensure that armed forces are better equipped," said a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of Delhi while passing the judgement.
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On December 15, 2022, the bench kept the Judgement reserved after hearing arguments on behalf of different petitioners and the central government.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the central government and submitted before the court that more than 10 lakh aspirants have been given the benefit of age relaxation. The Agnipath scheme is a major paradigm shift in the recruitment process of defence personnel. We cannot put everything on the affidavit but we can say that we acted bona fide in the matter.
The central government has informed the Delhi High Court that no prejudice has been caused to any of the candidates who had participated in the earlier recruitment process.
It was further informed by the central government that recruitment in the 'armed forces' stands on a completely different footing viz-a-viz employment in public offices, as it constitutes an essential sovereign function, which directly relates to the maintenance of national security.
ASG submitted that in June 2021, the decision was taken at the highest level. It was clear that the Agnipath scheme is a paradigm shift. After June 2021, we want to bring a big paradigm shift in the manner in which recruitment takes place.
It was clarified by the central government that the Agniveer is a separate cadre and ranks lower than sepoy.
During the argument advocate, Ankur Chibber who appeared for some of the petitioners argued that there can not of disparity in salary. The entry-level in force is sepoy. An Agniveer would get less salary than a sepoy. There should be an equal salary for equal work.
Another point he raised was that an Agniveer would have to join afresh if he is selected after a period of four years of service. His past four years of experience would not be counted. It will affect his seniority and other benefits.
Earlier, the bench refused to put a stay on the Agnipath Scheme and said. "If petitioners get success in the case, they will get it."
"We will not pass any stay or interim order and will hear the case finally," added the bench.
On July 19, 2022, the Supreme Court transferred various pleas related to Agnipath Scheme to Delhi High Court.
The Supreme Court also clarified that as regards to other similar petitions challenging Agnipath Scheme pending in other various High Courts, the concerned HCs should either give an option to the petitioners to either have their petitions transferred to the Delhi HC or to keep their petitions pending with liberty to petitioners to intervene in Delhi High Court.
A PIL in this regard also sought quashing of the Centre's notification for the Agnipath scheme saying the scheme is "illegal and unconstitutional".
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The Union Cabinet on June 14, 2022, approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the three services of the Armed Forces called Agnipath and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. Agnipath allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. The Agnipath Scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces.