Grouping of people from a particular region in an Army regiment is unconstitutional and amounts to discrimination on caste, region and religion basis, a petitioner challenging the recruitment policy told the Supreme Court.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court countering the assertion of the Army which had justified the policy for administrative convenience and operational requirements, the petitioner pleaded that such policy should be dismantled as it is also not followed by Indian Navy and Air Force.
Earlier, the Army told the Supreme Court that it does not recruit on the basis of caste, region and religion but justified grouping of people coming from a region in a regiment for administrative convenience and operational requirements.
Countering the stand taken by the Army, the petitioner, I.S. Yadav, a doctor from Rewari in Haryana, said, “The respondent (Army) has justified the recruitment in Indian Navy and Air Force which is not based on caste/region and religion basis because of the operational requirements of these forces. But in the same breath, it justifies the caste/region/religion-based recruitment giving the same excuse of operational and administrative requirements.
“At one instance they say that recruitment is open to all classes in Indian Army, but that the recruitment is open only to these classified groups and certainly not for every Indian.
It is incorrect that every section of Indian society is represented in these classified regiments,” he further said.
He alleged that a vast majority of the youths is being unjustly discriminated on caste-cum-region-cum-religion basis and their constitutional and fundamental rights are being violated at the intake point in the Army.
“The Indian Army should be composed of all those Indian citizens who are fit and ready to undertake the responsibility of military services,” he said, adding, “There were 22 army regiments which were based on caste, region and religion.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Army had earlier refuted the allegation that unlike Air Force and Navy, there is “discriminatory classification” for recruitment on caste/religion/region basis to various regiments like Maratha Regiment, Rajasthan Rifles, Dogra Regiment and Jat Regiment.
“Subject to the ineligibility imposed by the statute itself, the Act recognises that all citizens are eligible for enrolment in regular army, and no discrimination has been made on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them,” the affidavit had said.
“The assessment of the petitioner with regard to single castes based regiments is incorrect since Dogra, Garwal Rifles and Madras Regiment are not defined by caste but by region.
These regiments are drawn from specified social and linguistic groups without reference to caste being the source of recruitment,” the affidavit had said.
The Army, however, admitted that certain regiments are composed and organised/grouped on reasonable classification lines but the overall process of recruitment is open to all classes.
“Certain regiments of the Army are organised on lines of classification because social, cultural and linguistic homogeneity has been observed to be a force multiplier as a battle winning factor,” the affidavit had said, adding, “The commonality of language and culture only further augments the smooth execution of operation”.