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Delhi High Court reserves verdict on petitions against Agnipath

Delhi High Court reserves verdict on petitions against Agnipath

ANI photo. (Representational)

New Delhi: On the Agnipath issue, the Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved judgement on a batch of petitions that challenged the armed forces recruitment scheme, PTI reported.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad also reserved its verdict on petitions concerning the recruitment announced under certain previous advertisements but stalled before the launch of Agnipath, the short-term service scheme.

The Union government had informed the court that though it had decided to stop all other recruitments for the army when Agnipath was announced in June last year, the recruitments were not cancelled. Also, Agnipath was finalized only in June this year, when the same was notified in the gazette.

The court, the petitioners, and the Centre are to file written submissions by December 23, after which the court closes for vacation. Further, it allowed the Centre time to file the affidavit on the aspect of role, responsibility and duties of Agniveers, the soldiers who will be recruited under the Agnipath scheme.

The Agnipath scheme, unveiled on June 14, lays out rules for the recruitment of youths in the armed forces.

According to these rules, those aged between 17 years and a half and 21 years are eligible to apply, and the recruitment will be for a four-year tenure. The scheme allows 25 per cent of them to be retained and granted regular service subsequently depending upon their fitness.

After protests erupted against the scheme in several states, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022 to calm the frayed tempers.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners in a plea concerning the cancellation of the recruitment processes under certain previous advertisements, said the government did not stop all recruitment in June 2021, and some such exercises were held even in August 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

"Look at the plight of these people. Is it fair to tell them you have put your life on hold for over two-and-a-half years, and now you are told the recruitment process has been cancelled. It would be arbitrary, unfair and hit by the doctrine of legitimate expectation to allow the government to go away like this," he argued.

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