Rights and Grievances: Legal Protections and Challenges for Armed Forces Personnel in India


Legal Resources for Grievances

Armed Forces

The state has given armed forces personnel the right to make complaints to resolve their grievances. They can request under sections 26 and 27 of the Army Act, 1950 and Airforce Act, 1950 and under section 23 of the Navy Act, 1957.

Section 26 – States that if any person other than the officer, if thinks himself to be wronged by any superior other officer and if he is not attached to any troops or company, complains to the officer under whom he is serving, he can complain to the next superior officer, of the officer from whom he suffered. After which the next superior officer shall complete the investigation or should give the complaint to the superior authority, or the matter can be proceeded in such manner as specified by proper authority.

Section 27 Army Act 1950- States that even after complaining to the next superior officer even after complaining to the next superior officer do not receive the redress, may complain the Central Government in the manner specified by the proper authority.

Section 23 Navy Act, 1957- States that if any officer thinks that he suffered any personnel oppression, injustice, and other ill-treatment by any superior officer, he make a complaint in accordance with the regulations under the act.

Indian Armed Forces

Section 26 Airmen Act 1950- State that

1. If an airman believes they have been wronged by a superior or another officer, they have the right to file a complaint with the officer whose command or instructions they are currently serving under, if they are not connected to a unit or detachment, and to file a complaint with the officer in charge of that unit or detachment.

2. An airman who feels wronged by an officer can file a complaint with that officer’s next superior officer, and if he believes that officer has wronged him, he can file a complaint with the Chief of the Air Staff. This applies only if the officer complained against is the one to whom any complaint should be submitted under sub-section (1).

3. Upon receiving a complaint of this kind, every officer is required to conduct a thorough investigation in order to provide the complainant with full redress; if required, they may also send the issue to higher authorities.

4. The appropriate authority may from time to time specify the preferred method for each of these complaints.

5. Under sub-section (2), the Chief of the Air Staff may make revisions to any decision made; nonetheless, the Chief of the Air Staff’s decision is final.

Section 27 Airmen Act 1950 States that Officers who believe they have been wronged by their commanding officer or a superior officer and who, after properly notifying their commanding officer, are unable to obtain the redress they believe they are entitled to, may file a complaint with the Central Government using a method that the appropriate authority may specify from time to time.

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According to the applicable Armed Forces legislation, personnel may be arrested for debt under any procedure issued by a tax officer, civil court, or other authority. It does stipulate, however, that the privilege against arrest applies exclusively to civil or revenue processes; it does not apply to any criminal proceedings, except those covered by sections 45 and 475 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC.). Additionally, section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that no court may take cognizance of an offense unless it has received prior approval from a competent officer to prosecute a government employee for an alleged criminal act committed while performing his official duties.

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The aforementioned statutory measures are designed to shield members of the armed forces from harm when they carry out their official duties. Their family members are not covered by these statutory protections. Nonetheless, in every situation, the relevant military authorities or the personnel’s commanding officer offers the maximum amount of support to these individuals and their families.

The government does guarantee the safety of members of the armed forces while they are on duty or conducting operations. While it is not possible for the Armed Forces to offer physical security while on leave, the service members are protected if needed by the police or they can contact the local military authorities through their parent units for assistance.

Human rights guaranteed to the armed forces personnel

  1. Members of the armed forces personnel have the right to life

This means that they should not be exposed to such a situation where their life is unavoidably put to risk without any legitimate and clear military purpose or the circumstances where the threat to life has been disregarded.

  • No member should be subject to inhuman or torture or disregarding treatment or punishment

This means that the members should take measures to protect the members of the armed forces from such acts for eg- conscripts.

  • Members of the armed forces should not be used for forced or compulsory labor

This means that instead of compulsory military service they should not be considered as constituting forced or compulsory labour. They should not be used to perform tasks incompatible with their assignment to the national defense services.


Under Article 33 of the Constitution of India

  1. The parliament has the power to restrict or abrogate the fundamental rights of the members of the armed forces, para-military forces police forces, intelligence agencies, and analogous forces.
  2. The objective of this provision is to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and the maintenance of disputes among them.
  3. The power to make laws under Article 33 is conferred only on parliament and not on state legislatures.
  4. Any such law made by the parliament cannot be challenged in any court on the ground of controversies of any of the fundamental rights.

Read more : Upholding Ethical Standards in the Indian Armed Forces: A Call to Maintain Tradition and Integrity

Read more : Evolution of Military Law in India: From Ancient Times to Modern Reforms


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