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Indian Case Summary

Union Of India & Ors vs Major General Shri Kant Sharma & … on 11 March, 2015 – Case Summary

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In the case of Union of India & Ors vs Major General Shri Kant Sharma & Anr on 11 March, 2015, the Supreme Court of India was faced with a significant question regarding the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in matters related to the Armed Forces. The case was presided over by the bench of Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and N.V. Ramana.

Facts of the Case

The case involved multiple appeals, all of which revolved around the question of whether the right of appeal under Section 30 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’), against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Tribunal’) with the leave of the Tribunal under Section 31 of the Act or leave granted by the Supreme Court, or bar of leave to appeal before the Supreme Court under Article 136(2) of the Constitution of India, would bar the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India regarding matters related to Armed Forces.

The Union of India and others were the appellants in all these appeals except in C.A.No.7338, C.A.No. 7399 of 2013 and C.A.No.96/2014 wherein they were the respondents. The respondents in all these appeals except the three mentioned above were Army Personnel who moved before the Tribunal for adjudication or trial of disputes and complaints with respect to condition of service.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in these appeals was whether the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India was barred in matters related to the Armed Forces. This question arose due to the provision of a right of appeal under Section 30 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, was enacted to provide for adjudication or trial by the Armed Forces Tribunal of disputes and complaints with respect to commission, appointments, enrolment, and conditions of service in respect of persons subject to the Army Act, 1950, the Navy Act, 1957, and the Air Force Act, 1950. The Act also provided for appeals arising out of orders, findings, or sentences of Courts-Martial held under the said Acts.

The court noted that the Act provided a remedy of appeal to the Supreme Court against any final order passed by the Tribunal under Section 30 with the leave of the Tribunal under Section 31 of the Act. In case leave was refused by the Tribunal, an application to the Supreme Court for leave could be made as provided under sub-section (1) and (2) of Section 31 of the Act.

The court further noted that Section 33 of the Act excluded the jurisdiction of Civil Courts and not the High Court under Article 226 and 227. However, Section 34 of the Act dealt with the transfer of pending cases, suits, and cases pending in other courts, including the High Court. The suit pending before any Court or High Court may stand transferred if the cause of action comes under the jurisdiction of the Arms Forces Tribunal Act, but it did not affect the power of the High Court under Section 226 and 227 of the Constitution.

The court concluded that it was clear from the scheme of the Act that the jurisdiction of the Tribunal constituted under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act was in substitution of the jurisdiction of Civil Court and the High Court so far as it related to suit relating to the condition of service of the persons subject to Army Act, 1950, the Navy Act, 1957, and the Air Force Act, 1950, which were special laws enacted by the Parliament by virtue of exclusive legislative power vested under Article 246 of the Constitution of India read with Entries 1 & 2 of List I of the Seventh Schedule.