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Sunday, 10 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 10 Jul 2011





Half the tribunal’s orders are being defied

Vijay Mohan  Justice Ghanshyam Prasad Justice Ghanshyam Prasad  THE Armed Forces Tribunal has been in existence for over two years. An agency dedicated to deal with military related issues, it expedited the judicial process that earlier used to take years to settle due to the huge pendency of cases before various high courts. The inclusion of a retired armed forces’ officer on the bench also helped in dealing with technical issues unique to the services.  While the tribunal has been a boon, specially the veterans who are now able to get their pension related grievances resolved faster, several issues remain to be sorted out. Justice Ghanshyam Prasad, the senior judicial member of the Tribunal’s Chandigarh bench speaks on some of the more contentious issues.  What are the major challenges affecting the functioning of the Tribunal ?  A major obstacle is that the Tribunal does not have the powers to initiate civil contempt proceedings in case of non-compliance of its orders. This is unlike the High Courts, where a party can be hauled up for non-compliance. This does have an impact on the Tribunal’s effectiveness. In more than 50 per cent of the cases, the orders and directions passed by the benches are not executed by the authorities concerned, requiring repeated follow-up action. On an average our bench is receiving 10-12 applications every month seeking redressal for non-compliance of orders alone.  So, what is being done to redress this issue ?  The government is taking steps to incorporate certain amendments in the Armed Forces Tribunal Act that will equip the tribunals with powers to issue civil contempt. This is consequent to a case that went up to the Supreme Court, where the issue cropped up during the proceedings. We would then be able to initiate the requisite action against erring authorities. At present, the tribunals’ powers of contempt are limited to criminal contempt where we can only initiate action in case of a person disrupting court proceedings or creating a nuisance.  There is an accusation that different members of the same bench have given varying judgements on similar matters involving common points of law. Is there any justification ?  These are judicial matters. We cannot call varying orders as conflict of judgement. Though they may appear similar on the face of it, all cases have different facts and circumstances behind them and the reasons for arriving at a conclusion can be different. All members could be correct in interpreting and adjudicating a respective case.  The AFT Act says that appeals against the Tribunal’s orders would lie before the Supreme Court, but the Delhi and the Kerela High Courts have recently ruled that high courts have the powers to review orders passed by the Tribunal. How does this affect the Tribunal’s functioning?  The Tribunal’s functioning, per se, would not be affected, as it has no direct bearing on the role and powers of the Tribunal. The impact of the High Courts’ orders would be borne by the parties concerned only after the Tribunal has passed its orders. It has added another forum between the Tribunal and the Supreme Court and would now further lengthen the judicial process. The Tribunal was established to expedite the judicial process for armed forces personnel, but now things could go back to square one. It is the poor soldiers who would suffer.  Are there any plans to expand the Tribunal?  The Chandigarh Bench covers the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. This area has a large number of serving and retired armed forces personnel and keeping in view the number of cases filed daily, we need four benches in Chandigarh as against the two at present. Besides pending cases, we are getting about 200 fresh cases every month. There are also reports of the government contemplating setting up a separate bench for Jammu and Kashmir as it is very difficult for people from that area to travel all the way to Chandigarh , file cases and attend proceedings. Then we have recently started a circuit bench at Shimla, where a bench from Chandigarh holds court for a few days there according to a pre-defined roster. This is taking justice to the doorsteps of veterans and is of great help to those residing in Himachal Pradesh as it does away with the need to travel long distances and arranging accommodation for overnight stay. There is certainly scope for more circuit benches.  Are there issues pertaining to the Tribunal that are still pending with the government or other ministries concerned?  The biggest issue is non-availability of permanent accommodation for the Tribunal’s offices as well as its members. At present we are functioning from modified barracks at an interim location. Then there is the question of regular staff appointments. All members at present are retired judges or service officers.









Dilshan case Retd Army officer taken into custody

Chennai, July 9 A retired Army officer was taken into custody today in connection with the killing of 13-year-old Dilshan after he had trespassed into an Army premises here on Sunday last, the police said.  The CB-CID investigating the incident took a retired Lt Colonel into custody for questioning when he was about to leave for Madurai, they said.  A weapon allegedly used to commit the crime was recovered from the Coouam river here, they added.  Dilshan, residing at Indira Gandhi Nagar adjacent to the Army quarters in the Island Grounds locality, was shot dead when he tried to pluck almond from the Army residential area.  The victim’s family had alleged he was shot by an Army man.  The postmortem report had earlier established that a bullet killed Dilshan when he scaled the Army campus.








India needs defence partners not suppliers: Liam Fox

Click Here Investing in the Eurofighter would give India a relationship with "partners of choice" in global security, says British defence secretary Liam Fox. In an exclusive conversation with TOI, Fox also said that while China is seen as an emerging superpower, the UK was looking closely at how Beijing manages its internal challenges. Excerpts:  Q: You have been promoting the Eurofighter in your meetings with the Indian leadership. Why is it a better deal?  A: We shouldn't see this as simply an aircraft. It's about buying into a strategic relationship. Britain's approach to these things has been too transactional in recent years. But what we now need to do is think strategically, think about interoperability, about our partners of choice in global security. Start to recognize that India wants partners not suppliers. In terms of the aircraft itself of course, we've just been using it in Libya. That's the first time we have used it in combat. We have been extraordinarily impressed by its capability and availability. India would be building a relationship with four European partners - it would be buying into that in terms of strategic outlook. Especially, when you've got countries like Britain who are very open in terms of their defence market. I mean it gives you a much better chance in terms of a constructive longer term relationship, to technology transfer. France, for instance, has a completely closed defence industrial sector.  Q: Will we have to pay a whole lot more for the Typhoon and what do we get for that much more?  A: In defence you tend to not get the best for the lowest price. So, if you want a quality product you have to pay a reasonable price. We've chosen Typhoon in the UK because we believe the best serves our interest in the years ahead. We plan to eventually phase out the Tornados and use Typhoons in the multi-role capability. We've also packed in the world's first second generation e-scan radar, the most advanced of its type.  Q: India is looking at this deal to also help build its indigenous defence industry. How can you help?  A: We shouldn't be looking at this as a simple transaction of a single item. Over time - as India's defence industry develops we will share technologies, we have a genuine partnership. That will take time. We expect to have Typhoons for a long time in the UK. Ultimately, we're looking at two types of fast jets - Joint Strike Fighter and the Typhoon. That would be what the RAF would want in terms of capability.  We've just completed a major defence review – of all types of equipment and all the forms available to it. And we decided to phase out Harrier, although it had previously done great service, because it didn't have the future capabilities that we wanted. We will eventually phase out Tornado as Typhoon takes on an even greater multi-role capability.  Given what it has shown so far in Libya, looks like we've bet on the right horse.  Q: China too has an ambitious defence agenda and capability. Do you look at it as an opportunity or a challenge?  A: Both, I think. China is developing a lot of military capability. There is no reason to suspect it's a threat to our security. Indeed, in things like blue water naval capability they have an absolute right internationally to do so. Obviously economically China is still an opportunity. But we always are watching to see how China develops internally. Its response to some of the big challenges it has demographically, and in terms of natural supplies, not least water. Although we often see China as an emerging superpower, it is in many ways, struggling as a developing economy with issues of mass poverty. So I think that with China we have to watch and encourage it to go in the right direction.  Q: What's the prognosis in Libya and are you at a stalemate?  A: I don't think we can call it a stalemate. When we began, the population of Benghazi were under threat of a humanitarian disaster. The people of Misrata have come under bombardment from the mountains. We've now got a substantial portion of the country free from the regime. We've taken out the command and control capabilities of the regime, we're increasingly taking out their intelligence operations. In other words the things that underpin the Libyan state of Gaddafi. It would end tomorrow if Gaddafi recognizes there is no future for his regime.  Q: How does this end?  A: It ends with the Libyan people being saved. It's about protecting civilians. The NTC (National Transitional Council) have made it clear that the people would not be saved if Gaddafi was still in office. He must leave office. How much of the regime continues alongside the NTC and whatever transitional government happens is for the Libyan people, not for us. What happens to Gaddafi, whether he goes into exile, into another country to the ICC, these are things for the next government to decide. We mustn't be too prescriptive about it.  Q: Will the aerial operations continue until a new government is in place?  A: When Gaddafi's forces stop firing on the civilians. It's very simple. But we're still seeing operations mounted against opposition forces. But they are much less capable than they were in doing so. And we will continue to degrade their capabilities as long as it poses a threat and we have the will and capability to do so. The key element will be when the people around Gaddafi recognize that he is no longer worth investing in, because sooner or later, whether it's a week, or a month or more, he will be gone. So getting them to recognize that it's in their best interests, more important for the interests of the Libyan people.  Q: You have a withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan too. What kind of a presence will you have there ultimately?  A: We have a force of 9500. We're only withdrawing 500 by end of 2012. It's a very modest reduction, taking account of the increasing capability of the Afghan national security forces. If you talk to our commanders who work with them, they will tell you that not only have they increased in number but they say they're very quick learners.  Q: What's your position on the reconciliation with the Taliban?  A: That's an Afghan government issue. But we have said where there are those willing to reconcile with the Afghan constitution, stick by the norms asked of them. However, there will be those who are irreconcilable and who will be never sign up to a fundamentalist, Islamist movement. They will provide a constant threat to the people of Afghanistan and we will have to deal with them militarily. But I think the growing signs the Afghans themselves want to take on a faster and deeper role in their sovereignty and we should welcome that.  I met with NSA and will speak to the defence minister this afternoon. Again this conversation is part of regional security and the point I made this morning is that in the interdependent global economy we no longer have the security silos in different parts of the world. Instability here as we saw in 9/11 can cause destruction in different parts of the world. We have to develop partnerships for regional security looking not five years into the future but 15-20 years ahead.  Q: Piracy in the Indian Ocean is a chief concern for Indian security establishment. Did that come up in your conversations?  A: We have a conversation on a daily basis on piracy. We've seen an interesting model. We've seen in the response to piracy off the Somalian coast – we've seen NATO, European Union, UN, non-aligned countries because all have a common purpose – protection of the sea lanes on which trade depends. And it was organic. We didn't invent a structure and hoped that the effect would follow. There should be a lesson for that in global security and how we develop strategic partnerships so people can have a flexible response to problems. In the naval arena again joint capability and interoperability are quite important.  Q: Is India ready to work on interoperability?  A: We're looking at the concept of building a new fighter vessel, called a global combat ship, which we want to have other countries in at the beginning of the project rather than merely making something and selling something. We would like our partners to help us develop something that would suit their interests. So that even though we might have variants of the same basic ship, we would have interoperability. If we have a strategic relationship, we need to have openness.  Q: Are you encouraged by India's response?  A: I think its something the Indian government will think about. Basically, we're trying to find countries that show an interest in it. We've got a basic design and I hope it's something the Indian government would think about as part of a wider strategic relationship given that it's likely to include a number of other countries.  Q: You will be visiting Sri Lanka. What's your message to them?  A: I think the government there is at a crossroads. They need to decide whether with the end of LTTE they should now come to terms with that element of their history, assess where mistakes were made, ask questions openly, if there are individuals to he held to account, do it in a transparent way and move into situation where they can become a valued member of the international family of nations. This is a time of choice for them. They have a huge amount potentially to offer, in terms of their development, the role they can play in the region. I want them to become Malaysia not Myanmar.  Q: What is your vision for the larger India-UK defence relationship?  A: We share a lot of common global security analysis. That's the first - we have a common view of the world. We want to see it outward looking, free trade and that obviously requires a level of protection.  Q: Do we see it governed by a single global structure or single global superpower?  A: No. We would describe it as multi layered security approaches.  Q: Is there a place for India and UK?  A: Absolutely. We also have a lot of shared military common experience. We can offer cooperation that will gradually help India's indigenous defence sector develop. Not overnight, but over time. We obviously have, as the world's fourth biggest military budget, quite a lot of expertise. So I think there's a lot for both of us.  Q: What would Britain get out of it?  A: Britain would get a partner in a region of the world which is quite important for our security and our prosperity. We are no longer a nation that can patrol the world on our own but working with like-minded countries to develop a security strategy over time makes perfect sense. Our relationship of mutual dependence is usually a strong basis for cooperation.









Two Jaish militants killed in encounter

In a joint operation, the Army and police claimed to have killed two top militants associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The operation was launched late last Friday night and continued for 14 hours.  Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said that a joint operation was launched by 44 Rashtriya Rifles and the police following specific information about the presence of militants in Hanjan village. “The militants had taken refuge in a built-up area. When the troops cordoned the area and asked the militants to surrender, they opened fire resulting in a firefight,” he said.  Brar said that two militants were killed in the ensuing encounter. “The slain militants have been identified as Ashan Bhai of Pakistan and Javed Negroo, a local militant,” he said.  According to officials, Ashan Bhai was acting as a divisional commander of Jaish and had been active in the area for over a decade. “Two AK-47 rifles were recovered from their possession,” said Brar.









US still optimistic about defence cooperation with India

Washington, July 9: The United States continues to remain optimistic and excited about furthering defence cooperation with India, notwithstanding Washington's failure to secure a deal to supply combat aircraft to New Delhi, a senior State Department official said.   Robert O. Blake, Jr.,Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, told Indian journalists during a web chat from Washington that his government still believed there is still a window open for a U.S. companies to reenter the MMRCA bidding process, as and when it reopened.  "We are not pressuring the Indian government in any way to try to reopen the bid. Certainly if, for their own reasons, they decide they need to reopen the bid, we would certainly welcome that opportunity and I'm sure our companies would welcome that opportunity," Blake said.  "We look forward with great interest to the huge number of other opportunities that will exist in the Indian defense market over the next several years. There's up to 30 billion dollars just in the next several years of potential contracts out there," he added.  "American companies are keenly interested in expanding their cooperation with Indian counterparts; in developing co-development, co-production types of activities; and again, expanding their presence in India. So this is going to be another exciting area of cooperation between our countries," Blake said.  He also said that Washington has lifted trade restrictions on Indian defense research establishments.  "Let me state categorically, those sanctions have been removed and were removed in February. The Commerce Department took the necessary action to do that, so those sanctions are no longer in place," Blake said.









‘Army imposter may have got fake papers after joining FTII’

Pune According to Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), their security officer Fajliyat Ahmed Bashir Ahmed, who was arrested on Thursday for allegedly posing as a retired Army captain, may have procured fake documents after joining the institute.  Ahmed joined FTII in 2009 and was staying at the staff quarters with his wife and two children. Prakash Magdum, Registrar, FTII said, “When we hire someone at the FTII a complete background check is done on the person, and it is only after the police verification comes in that we let them join. The entire business of him having made the fake cards must have been done after joining. We received a letter from the Deccan police regarding his arrest and we have already complied with whatever help they needed from us. As of now since he has been in police custody for 48 hours he has been suspended and we will look into the matter on Monday.”  Meanwhile, the police confirmed that Ahmed has served in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) earlier. Senior inspector Manohar Joshi of the Deccan Police station said, “Ahmed is in our custody till July 12. His interrogation revealed that he was earlier with the CRPF. He joined as a constable and then moved on to the rank of PSI and even worked in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.”  Ahmed's wife went to the NCC canteen to purchase things at concessional rates meant for defence personnel. NCC officials questioned her regarding the card she had shown as identification. On probing further, the NCC officials called up Ahmed who confirmed that they were his family members.  Col AK Singh, Training Officer and Canteen Officer at the NCC Headquarters said, “Ahmed showed the picture of himself in an army captain's uniform. Besides if a person is with the armed forces how can he have ID cards of the CRPF too? We contacted the police.”  Police recovered an ex-serviceman identity card, two ID cards of the CRPF, his photographs in Army and (CRPF) officers’ uniform and other documents from him. The suspect’s wife denied the allegations.



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