Introduction: Agneepath Scheme
Recently Supreme Court of India decided on the plea in which the order of the Delhi High Court was challenged by the protesters of the Agnipath Scheme 2023. Agnipath Scheme is facing resistance since the day it was introduced to the public. Protesters are of the opinion that the Agnipath Scheme is not in favour of the contentions of the youth of this country. They demanded to continue the recruitment under old provisions instead of this new Agnipath Scheme. In this article, we will discuss what is this Agnipath Scheme, why the people are against it and what is the take of the Government of India on this situation. Also, we will be looking at current developments in this case which was filed by the protesters against the recruitment under Agnipath Scheme 2023.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: Agneepath Scheme
- What is Agnipath Scheme 2023?
- Why Agnipath Scheme 2023 was Introduced?
- What are the benefits of the Agnipath Scheme 2023?
- Advantages of the Agnipath Scheme to the Government
- What are the disadvantages of the Agnipath Scheme 2023?
- Why does Agnipath Scheme 2023 Face Resistance?
- The Government’s Take on the Resistance
- Judgement of Delhi High Court on Agnipath Scheme
- Judgement of Supreme Court on Agnipath Scheme 2023
What is Agnipath Scheme 2023?
Agnipath Scheme 2023 was introduced by the Government of India in June 2022. Under this scheme young population of age from 17.5 to 21 is invited to join the armed forces. These candidates will be recruited for a period of four years. They will be called Agniveers and will be enrolled in the forces under their respective service acts. Their rank will be different than any existing rank. They will be provided with a monthly package of 30000, 33000, 36500, and 40000 for four years respectively. After four years, when their service will be completed, they will be paid a one-time Seva Nidhi package of around 11 lakhs. This Seva Nidhi package consists of the monthly contribution of agniveers from their monthly package and an equal contribution from the government. This Seva Nidhi will be exempted from income tax and there will be no benefits or gratuity or pension. Also, applicable interest will be added to the amount of Seva Nidhi.
Agniveers after the completion of their tenure of four years, may apply to serve in the regular cadre. If they are selected to the regular cadre, they will have to serve for a further engagement period of 15 years. During this period they will be governed by the terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers/Other Ranks in the Indian Army and other equivalent rules in the Navy and Air Force.
Why Agnipath Scheme 2023 was Introduced?
Agnipath Scheme 2023 is introduced to serve mainly one major goal. This was to lower the average age profile of the Indian armed forces. This number is 32 in India while this number is very low in the rest of the world. This is actually a very important issue to consider and take action on to compete on the global platform. The Army chief in his statement said that Agnipath Scheme will help to bring this number down from 32 years to 26 years.
While the major goal is to bring down the average age profile of the Indian Armed Forces, the Agnipath Scheme 2023 is also very beneficial to infuse fresh talent into the military. This initiative seeks to tap into the interest of today's youth who are well-versed with modern technology and willing to don the uniform. After training these young candidates, the Agnipath scheme aims to contribute disciplined and motivated manpower back to the community.
What are the benefits of the Agnipath Scheme 2023?
Agnipath Scheme not only fulfils its objectives but also comes with many benefits for the agniveers. Apart from the monthly packages and one-time Seva-Nidhi, Agniveers will be provided non-contributory Life Insurance Cover of 48 lakh rupees for the duration of their engagement period in the Indian Armed Forces. While serving the nation through the Agnipath Scheme 2023, Agniveers will learn military skills, gain experience, develop discipline, improve physical fitness, foster leadership qualities, and cultivate courage and patriotism. The skills acquired by the Agniveers will be recognised in a certificate and if they don't want to continue the service, they can pursue their dream with the help of Seva Nidhi given at the end of four years of service.
Advantages of the Agnipath Scheme to the Government
The scheme aims to create a more youthful and technologically proficient war-fighting force by striking a balance between young and experienced personnel in the Armed Forces. This scheme comes with the following key advantages:-
- The Agnipath Scheme 2023 represents a transformative reform of the recruitment policy of the Armed Forces.
- It provides a unique opportunity for the youth to serve the country and contribute to nation-building.
- The Agnipath scheme aims to create a youthful and dynamic profile for the Armed Forces.
- Agniveers under this scheme are offered an attractive financial package.
- Agniveers have the opportunity to train in the best institutions and enhance their skills and qualifications.
- The Agnipath Scheme 2023 aims to create a pool of well-disciplined and skilled youth with military ethos in civil society.
- Adequate re-employment opportunities are provided for those Agniveers returning to society.
What are the disadvantages of the Agnipath Scheme 2023?
The Agneepath Scheme is a government initiative that provides employment opportunities to candidates for a limited period of 4 years. However, only 25% of the candidates will be offered permanent positions after the training period. These candidates won’t be eligible for a pension and be limited to non-commissioned ranks only. Agnipath scheme targets only a very small age bracket and does not provide job security.
Why does Agnipath Scheme 2023 Face Resistance?
Candidates who were applying for the traditional recruitment process went against this Agnipath Scheme. Their contention was that the traditional recruitment system gives a guarantee of employment, unlike the short four-year term engagement of Agniveers. Candidates who wish to work for the country for life by joining the armed forces are not happy with the Agnipath Scheme 2023 because only 25% of the Agniveers will be given the chance to be selected to serve for additional 15 years and there is no surety of the future for the remaining 75% Agneeveers.
To fight these contentions, the candidates went to court and filed a case against the government for introducing this arbitrary and discriminatory scheme while the traditional recruitment process was midway. Huge protests were also witnessed after the announcement of the Agnipath Scheme.
The Government’s Take on the Resistance
The Government of India assured the candidates that Agniveers would be selected to get enrollment for another fifteen years based on their performance. It also reiterated that economically deprived Agniveers might also pursue their dream career with the Seva Nidhi provided after the completion of four years. With this move, the government want to train the youth of India for any possible external, or internal threat or natural disasters. With this scheme, the Government want to inject a trained, disciplined young population with high moral values back into society for the overall social upliftment of the country.
Judgement of Delhi High Court on Agnipath Scheme
The Delhi High Court heard a batch of pleas filed by the candidates and ruled out that the move of the government is not arbitrary, discriminatory and mala-fide. The Advocate from the petitioner side argued that recruitment was undergoing when the Agnipath scheme 2023 was announced and after the announcement, the recruitment process was suspended, which is a violation of the rights of candidates who appeared for the exam during the traditional recruitment process.
The Delhi High Court held that rule of promissory estoppel does not apply in the present scenario because the candidates do not have a vested right to seek recruitment. The court did not find any reason to interfere with the scheme and dismissed all the petitions challenging the Agnipath Scheme 2023.
Judgement of Supreme Court on Agnipath Scheme 2023
The aggrieved petitioners filed petitions to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Delhi High Court, in which the court denied interfering with the Agnipath Scheme 2023 introduced by the government of India. The Supreme Court also did not allow the petition and upheld the decision of the High Court in this case. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India dismissed all pleas, declined the existence of the vested rights of the candidates in the recruitment process and rejected the application of the doctrine of promissory estoppel in the present case.
Now that the Apex Court has rejected the contentions of the petitioners, they are left with no choice but to apply for the recruitment through the new Agnipath Scheme 2023. It is a plan to reform the process of recruitment into the armed forces by the government. It aims to make the forces younger and more technologically advanced and also to make the young population of India more disciplined, trained and matured. On the other hand, it is also motivated by saving money because personnel costs for the military are rising too much. The reform is necessary to ensure the availability of money for important things like buying equipment and doing research for defence requirements.
Moreover, it should be considered a training programme and youth should take interest in this recruitment for the priceless experience they will get. It will be a proud moment for them that they are the protectors of India’s national security. Cherry on the top is the option of returning to their social life after four proud years and pursuing a career where they will get to compete and secure respected positions of responsibility while having an edge in terms of training and experience.
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