Mathur named head of Armed Forces Tribunal (Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) A.K. Mathur, a retired Supreme Court judge, was Wednesday appointed the head of the newly constituted Armed Forces Tribunal, which will adjudicate on appeals against military courts’ verdicts on service-related matters.“The tenure of the appointment of Justice A.K. Mathur as chairperson in the Armed Forces Tribunal will be for a period of four years from the date of assumption of the charge of post or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier,” a defence ministry statement said.

Justice Mathur was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on June 7, 2004 and retired Aug 6 this year.

The tribunal is the military version of the Central Administrative Tribunal that hears appeals of the government’s civilian employees against disciplinary or other action taken against them.

Some 9,000 appeals are currently pending in various high courts and the Supreme Court and they will be transferred to the tribunal once it becomes functional.

The tribunal will consist of a chairperson, 14 judicial members and 15 administrative members.

There is a tussle going on over the administrative members, in the rank of major general and above, that are to be selected from within the Armed Forces.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony had made it clear in a Gazette notification June 13 that the principal bench of the tribunal be set up in the capital by Aug 15, but the deadline was missed.

According to defence ministry sources, while the ministry has set up a selection committee headed by the defence secretary and the law secretary to short-list prospective members, the quarrel over the ‘quota’ for each service in administrative and judicial posts is holding up matters.

Officials say the army is also demanding ‘reservation’ of a few benches of the tribunal, including the one in Jaipur, only for army officers as majority of the legal cases pertain to its personnel in the region. This has also not gone down well with the other two services.

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