The commander-in-chief and officer-in-command of the inter-services organisations will soon be able to exercise control over all the personnel serving/attached under their command but belonging to different services. The government has introduced a bill titled ‘Inter-services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to this effect.

“The proposed Bill will essentially empower the Heads of the Inter-services Organisations to exercise effective command, control and discipline on all personnel of regular Air force, Army and Navy and to persons of other, who are serving in or attached to an Inter-services Organisation, without amending the respective Acts,” the statement of objects and reasons of the bill said.

Joint command

The bill will empower the central government to constitute Inter-services Organisation. Such an organisation may include a joint services command — comprising of units or service personnel of Air Force, Army and Navy. They may be placed under the command of the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command.  Power under the bill will also be available to Inter-services Organisations constituted before the commencement of new law.

Presently, the service personnel of Air Force, Army and Navy are governed by the provisions of the Air Force Act, 1950, the Army Act, 1950 and the Navy Act, 1957. Only officers of the respective services are empowered to exercise disciplinary powers over the service personnel under the respective Service Acts.

This has a direct impact on command, control and discipline of the Inter-services Organisations like Andaman and Nicobar Command or Defence Space Agency, and joint training establishment like National Defence Academy or National Defence College, as the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of such Inter-services Organisations are not empowered to exercise disciplinary or administrative powers over the personnel belonging to other services.

Streamlining under process

As a result, the personnel serving in the Inter-services Organisations need to be reverted to their parent Service units for any disciplinary or administrative action. This is not only time consuming, but also has financial implications relating to the movement of the personnel. The problem becomes more cumbersome when the proceedings arise from the same set of facts and circumstances but involves personnel belonging to different services. As a result, multiple sets of proceedings under the respective Service Acts are required to be initiated, which impedes expeditious disposal of cases, thereby affecting the standard of discipline.

The current bill once enacted will solve this problem. . The bill also provides that the service personnel will continue to be governed by their respective Service Acts for the purposes of disciplinary or administrative action, if any, when serving in or attached to an Inter-services Organisation

The government says “the bill will pave way for various tangible benefits such as expeditious disposal of cases, saving of time and public money by avoiding multiple proceedings and greater integration and jointmanship amongst Armed Forces personnel.”