Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) plays a crucial role in the Indian legal system, particularly concerning matters related to the armed forces. With its establishment, the AFT has become a significant judicial forum for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Armed Forces Tribunal in India, along with relevant case laws, showcasing its significance and impact on the armed forces community.

What is the Armed Forces Tribunal?

The Armed Forces Tribunal, established under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, is a specialized quasi-judicial body in India. It acts as a military tribunal and provides speedy justice to armed forces personnel and their dependents. The primary objective of the AFT is to hear and decide cases related to service matters, including disciplinary matters, pension disputes, and other legal issues faced by armed forces personnel.

Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces Tribunal

The Armed Forces Tribunal has jurisdiction over the following matters:

1. Service Matters

The AFT has the authority to deal with cases related to service matters, such as:

  • Promotion and seniority disputes
  • Retirement benefits and pension issues
  • Medical disability and invalidation cases
  • Redressal of grievances related to service conditions

2. Disciplinary Matters

The AFT is empowered to hear disciplinary matters, including:

  • Court-martial cases
  • Summary trials and disciplinary actions
  • Discharge and dismissal from service
  • Reinstatement and restoration of rank

3. Appeals and Petitions

The AFT entertains appeals and petitions against orders or decisions of various military authorities, such as:

  • Army, Navy, and Air Force authorities
  • Adjutant General’s Branch and Military Secretary’s Branch
  • Armed Forces Medical Services

Also Read Official Secrets Act and Its Impact on the Indian Army in 2023

Composition of the Armed Forces Tribunal

The Armed Forces Tribunal consists of two divisions:

1. Principal Bench

The Principal Bench of the AFT is located in New Delhi. It consists of a Chairperson and a maximum of 15 judicial and administrative members. The Chairperson of the AFT should be a retired or serving judge of the Supreme Court of India. The members should be retired or serving judges of either the Supreme Court or High Courts, or individuals with expertise in service law.

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2. Regional Benches

Apart from the Principal Bench, the AFT also has several Regional Benches located across India. These benches are established to ensure easy access to justice for armed forces personnel. Each Regional Bench is headed by a Judicial Member and includes an Administrative Member.

Landmark Case Laws

The Armed Forces Tribunal has delivered several landmark judgments that have had a significant impact on the armed forces community. Here are a few noteworthy case laws:

1. Lt. Col. Prasad Srikant Purohit v. State of Maharashtra (2015)

In this case, Lt. Col. Purohit, an army officer, was accused of being involved in the Malegaon bomb blast case. The AFT granted him bail, emphasizing that the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) were not applicable to him as he was an army officer.

2. Ex Sub. S. Ramakrishnan Nair v. Union of India & Ors. (2017)

In this case, the AFT directed the authorities to reinstate a retired army personnel, Sub. S. Ramakrishnan Nair, after it was proved that his prematureretirement was unjust and based on flawed disciplinary proceedings. The AFT’s decision in this case highlighted the importance of fair treatment and due process for armed forces personnel.

3. Naik Gyanendra Singh v. Union of India (2019)

This case involved the denial of disability pension to Naik Gyanendra Singh by the authorities. The AFT held that the denial was unjust and directed the concerned authorities to grant him disability pension with arrears. This judgment reinforced the rights of armed forces personnel to receive rightful entitlements and benefits.

4. Maj. Gen. Manmohan Singh (Retd.) v. Union of India & Ors. (2021)

In this case, Major General Manmohan Singh, a retired army officer, challenged the denial of the rank of Lieutenant General. The AFT ruled in his favor and directed the authorities to grant him the rightful rank. This judgment highlighted the AFT’s commitment to ensuring justice and upholding the dignity of armed forces personnel.


The Armed Forces Tribunal in India serves as a crucial institution for addressing the legal needs of armed forces personnel and their dependents. With its jurisdiction over service and disciplinary matters, the AFT plays a pivotal role in ensuring justice, fairness, and timely resolution of disputes. Through landmark case laws, the AFT has established precedents that protect the rights and welfare of the armed forces community. As a specialized tribunal, the AFT continues to contribute significantly to the legal framework of the Indian armed forces, promoting trust, accountability, and transparency within the military system.

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