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A petition was today filed in the Delhi High Court, demanding that the control of the Assam Rifles be given to either the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Defence. The Assam Rifles functions under the administrative control of the Home Ministry but headed by Army personnel who come under the Ministry of Defence, the plea said. A bench of Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Navin Chawla has listed the petition for hearing on October 30. The plea, filed by a former government employee, Kiran Pal Singh, demanded that the control of the Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in India, be given to one of the ministries "as the dual leadership was causing administrative problems which could not be addressed". "Over the years, certain administrative problems have cropped up and could not be addressed effectively.
The Home Ministry has always found it difficult to exercise control over the force as it comprised officers and personnel from the Army, which comes under the Ministry of Defence," the petition filed through advocate Abhishek Kumar Choudhary said. It claimed that the policies of the Defence Ministry were "discriminatory" in terms of promotion. The policies of the Defence Ministry are so "discriminatory that a jawan has to wait for 13 years to apply for the departmental officer post. "In other similarly situated paramilitary forces of India, he is eligible to fill the officer-cadre departmental post after three years of continuous service," it claimed. Because of the dual control, many personnel, even after 30 years of continuous service with the Assam Rifles, were being deprived of promotion, the petition claimed. "This discrimination and indifference is not only violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution but also instills a sense of deprivation and frustration in the force personnel," it said. The petitioner demanded that the status of "Ex- Servicemen", currently given only to the personnel of the Army, Air Force and Navy, be also given to the jawans of the paramilitary force. He also sought the status of "shaheed" for Assam Rifles troops killed in action against the enemy. "No battle casualty certificate or shaheed status is given to an Assam Rifles jawan killed in action against the enemy, but soldiers of the Army deputed in the Assam Rifles are bestowed with this certificate which clearly shows that the AR personnel are accorded a step-motherly treatment by the ministries," the petition claimed. The plea rued that the jawans "have no chance of getting a home posting. They have to render the whole service in insurgency situation and have to wear the bullet proof jacket always". The Assam Rifles was formed under the British in 1835 by the name of Cachar Levy and had a number of names -- the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), before finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917. At present, it has 46 battalions and fulfils the dual role of maintaining internal security in the Northeastern region and guarding the Indo-Myanmar Border.
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