'Multiplicity of Writ Petitions Not Desirable': SC Transfers Agnipath Petitions to Delhi HC

The bench said petitioners before the four high courts can also opt to intervene in the proceedings before the Delhi high court.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday transferred petitions pending before it challenging the Union government’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces to the Delhi high court.

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

Three writ petitions had been filed under Article 32 of the constitution. LiveLaw has reported that two of the petitions were public interest litigations and the other one was a writ petition filed by a group of persons shortlisted for airman selection in the Indian Air Force. The latter pleaded that the recruitment process which commenced in previous years should be completed regardless of the Agnipath scheme.

“In our view, a multiplicity of writ petitions on the subject would not either be desirable or proper. One option would be for this court to consolidate and transfer all pending proceedings before this court. However this would deprive this court of the considered view of the High Court on various aspects of the validity of the scheme and its implementation which are being raised in several high courts,” the bench said.

The bench said petitioners before the four high courts can also opt to intervene in the proceedings before the Delhi high court.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi high court has said it will hear on Wednesday, July 20, several pleas challenging the scheme.

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

Protests had erupted in several states against the scheme.

The government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year.

Among pleas pending at the Delhi high court is one seeking a direction to the armed forces to resume the recruitment process cancelled due to introduction of Agnipath.

A petition seeking to complete the recruitment process in the Indian Air Force as per a 2019 notification without being affected by the scheme is also pending in the high court.

Another plea relates to early hearing application in a pending petition which challenges the Indian Navy’s employment advertisement reserving its right for shortlisting applicants by increasing the cut-off marks obtained by them in class 12 examination, claiming that it was contrary to the already laid down eligibility criteria in the advertisement after their applications were received for recruitment as Person Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the force.

(With PTI inputs)