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Inter-Services Organisation Bill, 2023

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August 12, 2023

Why in news?

The passage of the Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control & Discipline) Bill, by the Parliament is a step closer towards realising the long-awaited reform of theaterisation of the Armed Forces in India.

What is the current setup of armed forces in India?

  • Service Acts- Armed forces personnel in India are governed separately by
    • The Army Act, 1950
    • The Navy Act, 1957
    • The Air Force Act, 1950

Issues

  • Disciplinary action- The Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of such Inter-services Organisations (ISOs) are not empowered to exercise disciplinary and administrative powers over the personnel belonging to other services.
  • This has a direct impact on command, control and discipline of the Inter-services Organisations.
  • Time consuming- The personnel serving in the ISOs need to be reverted back to their parent Service units for any disciplinary or administrative action.
  • Financial constraints- It has financial implications relating to the movement of the personnel.
  • Complexities- The problem becomes more cumbersome when the proceedings arise from the same set of facts and circumstances but involves personnel belonging to different services.
  • Pendency of cases- Multiple sets of proceedings under the respective Services Act are required to be initiated, which hampers speedy disposal of cases.

What are the key features of the bill?

  • Inter-services Organisation- It will placed under the command of an Officer-in-Command.
  • It includes
    • Andaman and Nicobar Command
    • Defence Space Agency
    • National Defence Academy
  • Power of central government- Central government may constitute an Inter-services Organisation which has personnel belonging to at least 2 of the three services.
  • Central government may also issue directions to such organisations on grounds of national security, general administration, or public interest.
  • The central government may notify any force (in addition to the three forces) raised and maintained in India to which the Bill will apply.
  • Joint Services Command- It is constituted under Inter Service Organisation which may be placed under the command of a Commander-in-Chief.
  • Control of Inter-services Organisations- The Bill empowers the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command of an Inter-services Organisation to exercise command and control over the personnel serving in or attached to it. 
  • Commander-in-Chief- The officers eligible to be appointed as the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command are
    • A General Officer of the regular Army (above the rank of Brigadier)
    • A Flag Officer of the Navy (rank of Admiral of the Fleet, Admiral, Vice-Admiral, or Rear-Admiral)
    • An Air Officer of the Air Force (above the rank of group captain)
  • The Commander-in-Chief will be empowered to exercise all disciplinary and administrative powers vested in
    • General Officer Commanding the Army
    • Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of a Naval Command
    • Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of an Air Command,
    • Any other officer/authority specified in the service Acts or by the Government.
  • Commanding officer- It provides for a Commanding Officer who will be in command of a unit, ship, or establishment.  
  • The officer will perform duties assigned by the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of the Inter-services Organisation. 
  • The officer will be empowered to initiate all disciplinary or administrative actions over the personnel appointed, deputed, posted, or attached to that Inter-services Organisation.

What are the advantages of the move?

Establishment of theatre commands is a major military reform that seeks to roll the existing individual commands of the three services into tri-services organisations with a common military aim.

  • Integrated theatre command- Establishment of Inter Service Organisation will pave the way for creation of integrated theatre command.
  • Better coordination- It will help to cope up with the new challenges involved in modern warfare which is more technology and network-centric and aid in better jointness within the military.
  • Precursor to One Border One Force-

theatre

  • Cost effective- Due to integration of services, there will be speedy disposal of cases and reduce the finance associated with it.
  • Simplification- It simplifies the multiple set of proceedings, and eases the disciplinary action against the personnel.

What lies ahead?

  • The integration of Indian armed forces with renewed vigour and future-readiness has been indeed boosted by this bill.
  • China, with whom India shares a long and contested border, reorganised its 7 military regions into 5 theatre commands a few years ago.
  • India also needed to evolve its response to such changes.

 

References

  1. Indian Express- Inter Service Organisation bill
  2. PRS- Key features of the bill
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