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Armed Forces Tribunal starts hearings through video conferencing

Armed Forces Tribunal

New Delhi: In a relief to armed forces personnel whose applications are awaiting justice, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) started hearings on matters through video conferencing from Wednesday.

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) Chairperson Justice Rajendra Menon inaugurated hearings by video conferencing for all 10 regional benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal in Delhi.

The Principal Bench of Armed Forces Tribunal is the only court that has been conducting physical hearings since June 8, 2020.

Physical hearings are being conducted at Principal Bench taking into account hardships and limitations faced by defence personnel, retired as well as serving, primarily due to their far flung locations and various security-related issues.

The chairperson gave credit for incident-free hearings to the Principal Registrar Dr Rakesh Kumar who has been advising on the ways to maintain impeccable hygiene standards at the Principal Bench.

The court premises are being sanitised twice daily by the AFT employees only, even prior to declaring of nationwide lockdown.

Entry to the court premises is also kept to bare minimum with proper social distancing and without compromising on the smooth work flow.

The advocates appearing in the AFT are separated by a transparent sheet, from the judges and proper social distancing is maintained between court staff and judges.

For a total of 11 benches of AFT, which includes Principal Bench and 10 regional benches spread all over the country, 34 judicial and administrative members have been sanctioned by the government.

However, only four members are presently in the chair at Principal Bench, one judicial member and two administrative members are in the chair at Chandigarh, Mumbai and Chennai benches, respectively.

Even though the urgent applications of regional benches were being heard at the Principal Bench, the requirement was felt to devise a procedure for hearing other matters of regional benches as well. Accordingly, a viable procedure for virtual hearings has been initiated.

With this provision of hearing by video conferencing, immense relief has been provided to the defence personnel, whose applications are awaiting justice at various regional benches. Member, Judicial Justice Mohammad Tahir and Members, Administration Vice Admiral P. Murugesan (Retd) and Lt Gen C.A. Krishnan (Retd) will hear applications of the regional benches through video conferencing.

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