Supreme Court transfers petitions challenging Agnipath scheme to Delhi HC

The top court reasoned that it is transferring the pleas to the Delhi High Court as it felt it appropriate to have the benefit of the latter’s considered view on them. The bench also asked the Delhi High Court to consider all the PILs along with the pleas which are already pending before it expeditiously on this issue.

Supreme Court transfers petitions challenging Agnipath scheme to Delhi HC
The Agnipath scheme, announced by the Centre on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youth between the age of 17-and-a-half and 21 years for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. (file)

Observing that the multiplicity of petitions on the subject was neither desirable nor proper, the Supreme Court today transferred three petitions filed before it challenging the Agnipath recruitment scheme to the Delhi High Court.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and AP Bopanna noted that there are several petitions filed before various high courts, and asked the High Courts of Kerala, Patna, Punjab and Haryana and Uttarakhand to either transfer the PILs pending before them to the Delhi High Court or keep it pending till the Delhi High Court arrives at a decision in the matter if the petitioners before it so desire.

The top court further said in its order that petitioners before the four high courts where similar PILs are pending have the liberty to intervene in the proceedings before the Delhi High Court.

The top court reasoned that it is transferring the pleas to the Delhi High Court as it felt it appropriate to have the benefit of the latter’s considered view on them. The bench also asked the Delhi High Court to consider all the PILs along with the pleas which are already pending before it expeditiously on this issue.

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

The announcement of the scheme had led to violent protests across several states, crippling transport services and bringing normal life to a grinding halt. Sensing the people’s displeasure, the government later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year.

Advocate ML Sharma, who is one of the petitioners against the scheme, urged the top court not to entertain any fresh pleas against the Agnipath scheme. The SC bench said that it will pass the same orders therein. Sharma was also involved in a brief light moment shared in the court when Justice Chandrachud, was hearing Sharma’s grievance that his pleas kept being turned down by the court while similar pleas filed by other lawyers were admitted

“Mr ML Sharma, you are not an applicant or an Agniveer. You may be a ‘Veer’ but not an ‘Agniveer’,” Justice Chandrachud responded on a lighter note.

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