Delhi HC dismisses petitions challenging Agnipath scheme : A look at its recruitment process
Context- On February 27, the Delhi High Court dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Agnipath scheme. A two-judge bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the scheme was a “policy decision on the basis of national security” and thus, it found no reason to interfere with the scheme.
In doing so, the bench dismissed the pleas challenging the 2019 recruitment notification or advertisements while observing that the ads created no promissory estoppel or legitimate expectation and that the petitioners cannot claim “vested rights” in the same.
What is the Agnipath Scheme?
- The Agnipath scheme, unveiled on June 14 last year, lays down rules for recruitment to the armed forces. Under the scheme, around 46,000 soldiers between the ages of 17.5 and 21 years – known as “Agniveers” – will be recruited into the three services (Army, Airforce, and Navy) for a period of four years on a short-term contractual basis.
- However, in June 2022, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment after violent protests in several states.
What is the recruitment process under the Agnipath Scheme?
- Under the new scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually, and most will leave the service in just four years.
- Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years. The move aims to reduce the permanent force levels for over 13 lakh armed forces personnel in the country.
- This will, in turn, significantly reduce the defense pension bill, which has been a cause of concern for governments over the years.
Who is eligible under the Agnipath Scheme?
The new system is only for personnel below officer ranks or personnel who do not join the forces as commissioned officers.
What does selection entail?
- Once selected, the aspirants will go through training for six months and then will be deployed for three and a half years. During this period, they will get a starting salary of Rs 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.
- During this time, 30 per cent of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi program, which is a contributory severance package where the government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will also accrue interest. The recruit will not be entitled to gratuity and pension.
- At the end of the four years, each soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free. They will also get a Rs 48 lakh life insurance cover for those four years.
- In case of death, the payout will be over Rs 1 crore, including pay for the unserved tenure. However, after four years, only 25 per cent of the batch will be recruited back into their respective services, for a period of 15 years. For those who are re-selected, the initial four-year period will not be considered for retirement benefits.
When will the recruitment begin?
- Recruitment will begin within 90 days under the scheme which will bring “all India, all class” recruitment to the services by way of an all-India merit-based selection, which will replace the British-era system of recruiting specific caste-based regiments.
- Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) said that “Regiments in the future will have inductees from across India and from all classes,” The Financial Express reported.
Conclusion- Agnipath scheme reduces pension burden and average age in the three branches of armed forces. It will also provide the nation with disciplined and patriotic youth for all years to come.
Source- Indian Express
NEWS- Delhi HC dismisses petitions challenging Agnipath scheme : A look at its recruitment process
Syllabus- GS-3; Security