The Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 21, said the plea for an SIT probe into the damage to public properties during the protests against 'Agnipath' will be listed for hearing after the Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, takes a decision in this regard. The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths in the age group of 17-and-a-half-years to 21 years for a four-year stint with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years.
Protests have erupted in several states against the scheme, following which the Union government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year. Advocate Vishal Tiwari urged a vacation bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia to list the plea for an urgent hearing. Referring to the practice of listing cases during vacation, the bench said, "This matter will be placed before the CJI. The CJI will take a call."
The Public Interest Litigation also sought directions to the Union government, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan governments to submit a status report on the violent protests. Tiwari, in his petition, also sought a direction to set up an expert committee under the chairmanship of a retired apex court judge to examine the scheme and its impact on national security and the army.
He further sought directions to the Union government and the states arrayed as parties to appoint claim commissioners under the guidelines laid down by the apex court in its 2009 verdict, which was passed in a suo motu case initiated after incidents of damage to public properties.
"The petitioner through this present Public Interest Litigation (Civil) under Article 32 of the Constitution of India would like to bring to the court's attention the devastated condition of the country resulting from the Agnipath scheme launched by the Respondent No.1 (Union of India) through its Ministry of Defence," the plea read.
It said the consequence has been far-reaching for the citizens of this country, resulting in intensified vandalism and protest, and leading to severe destruction of public property and goods. Another PIL has been filed by lawyer ML Sharma against 'Agnipath', alleging that the government has quashed the century-old selection process for the armed forces, which is contrary to the constitutional provisions and without parliamentary approval.