'Introduced in National Interest': Delhi HC Dismisses All Petitions Against Agnipath Scheme

Violent protests had erupted in several states soon after the scheme was announced last year. Of the 23 petitions pending, 18 had sough resumption of old recruitment norms, while 5 had specifically challenged Agnipath.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday, February 27, dismissed all the pleas challenging the Union government’s Agnipath scheme, saying that it was made in “national interest.”

The Agnipath scheme announced on June 14, 2022, provides for recruitment of youths in the defence forces between the age of 17-and-a-half and 21 for only four years with a provision to retain only 25% of them for 15 more years.

Violent protests had erupted in several states soon after the scheme was announced. The government later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment under the scheme in 2022.

LiveLaw has reported that a division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the court did not find any reason to interfere with the scheme.

“This court finds no reason to interfere with the scheme. All petitions are dismissed. We can conclude that the scheme was introduced in national interest,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench.

Out of the 23 petitions, five had challenged the Agnipath scheme itself and the other 18 petitions had sought appointment as per the previous recruitment scheme.

All were dismissed.

Among counsel for the petitioners were Prashant Bhushan, Ankur Chibber, Kumud Lata Das, and others.

On July 19, 2022, the Supreme Court had transferred petitions pending before it challenging the scheme to the Delhi high court.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and A.S. Bopanna had also asked the high courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand to transfer pending PILs to the Delhi high court or keep it pending till a decision from the Delhi high court, if the petitioners before it so desire.

On August 25, 2022, this Delhi high court bench had refused to stay the scheme and asked the Union government to file a reply.