Difficulties in Facilitating the Legal Cases in AFTs
TSEWA has been facilitating filing of Applications before the Principal Bench of AFT at New Delhi by groups of Veterans to get justice in cases where rightful entitlement of Disability Pension and Service Pensions have been denied to them due to anomalies in Policies and implementation by Defence Accounts Department. 17 Joint Applications have been filed; OA nos have been allotted and they are in various stages of hearing. 13 Cases are under scrutiny of our Legal Team at Delhi or under study by our Advocates. Legal Notices have been issued in some of these cases and the response of the MoD and other respondents is awaited. Six cases are awaiting scrutiny at TSEWA Hq and it is our hope that in next four to six weeks, we forward them to our Advocates.
The Members who have subscribed to these cases after paying the prescribed legal fee are rightly agitated about the seemingly tardy progress in pre-filing scrutiny, filing and pursuing of the case post admission stage. The Legal Team of TSEWA faces certain difficulties that contribute to the delay in filing and progress of the Applications before AFT. The aim of this note is to acquaint the members the details of these difficulties and seek their understanding in the matter. I must place on record that most of our members have exhibited a very high degree of patience and understanding in the matter. None the less we consider it our duty to share our difficulties with our members and assure them of our continued efforts to expedite our cases.
TSEWA has embarked on the mission of facilitating Joint Applications before AFT with a view of obtaining Justice to the ESM who cannot muster courage to litigate against mighty Government. The main difficulties are in two areas as under:
Dysfunctional State of AFTs. The AFTs are in advanced state of Dysfunction. Out of 35 members authorised only 18 members are functioning. Since a Bench of AFT is functional only when both the Judicial and the Administrative member are in office, out of 17 Benches sanctioned, only three are functional. The remaining 14 benches are without Coram- either the Judicial or Administrative member is not available and hence the bench is not functional. Hence this poses a strain on the members who have to travel far and wide to sit on the Dysfunctional Benches and hear pending cases. Consequently, the number of sittings in functional benches and non-functional benches have reduced drastically and the adjournments are given after 12 to 24 weeks. The situation in Circuit Benches has even become worse. When the Circuit Benches were constituted, it was expected that these Benches will sit for three to four days in each month. Now the Circuit Benches sit only once in three to four months causing substantial delay in admission and progress in hearing of cases.
Difficulties in Facilitating Applications. However, of late, the Joint Applications are not being encouraged by the Bench on various grounds. This leads to multiple applications on same matter and we have been facilitating these multiple applications. Further, in cases where the arguments in a case are closed, the judgment is kept pending as per seriatim rule. In some cases where we collected documents a few months ago, we are required to obtain new Vakalatnamas etc in revised formats. In some cases, the bench demands us to confirm that the applicant is alive. Lastly, the Respondents – Service Hq always takes a lot of time in furnishing the Counters. All these difficulties have contributed to considerable delay in filing the cases.