MoD notifies act for uniform, tri-service military discipline - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 11 May 2024

MoD notifies act for uniform, tri-service military discipline

Currently, soldiers, sailors and airmen are governed in accordance with their respective service acts – Army Act 1950, Navy Act 1957 and Air Force Act 1950

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 11th May 24


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken an important step towards the uniform implemention of military justice across the joint-service organisations being created by merging army, navy and air force elements into Inter-Services Organisations (ISOs).


On Friday, an MoD notification stated: “The Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Act has been notified through a Gazette Notification to be enforced with effect from May 10, 2024.”


In order to bolster effective command, control and functioning of ISOs, the bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament during last year’s monsoon session of Parliament. It received the President’s assent on August 15, 2023.


The Act will empower commanders-in-chief and officers-in-command of ISOs with disciplinary and administrative powers that will govern the personnel serving in or attached to such organisations.


Currently, armed forces personnel of all three services are governed in accordance with the provisions contained in their respective service acts – Army Act 1950, Navy Act 1957 and Air Force Act 1950.


Explaining the implications of this step, an MoD statement stated: “The Act empowers Commanders-in-Chief and Officers-in-Command of ISOs to exercise control over Service personnel, serving under them, for effective maintenance of discipline and administration, without disturbing the unique service conditions of each individual Service.”


“The Act will empower the Heads of ISOs and pave the way for expeditious disposal of cases, avoid multiple proceedings and will be a step towards greater integration and jointness among the armed forces personnel,” the statement said.


The Bill will promote maintenance of discipline in inter-services establishments by eliminating the need to revert personnel for disciplinary proceedings to their parent units, expeditiously dispose of cases of misdemeanour or indiscipline and save public money and time by avoiding multiple proceedings.


According to senior MoD officials, it is an “enabling act” that does not propose any change in the existing Service Acts/Rules/Regulations which are time-tested and have withstood six decades or more of judicial scrutiny. 


In the final balance, service personnel – whether army, navy or air force – who serve in an ISO will continue to be governed by their respective Service Acts. All that it does is to empower ISO heads to exercise the disciplinary and administrative powers that relate to the service they belong to.

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