Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill 2023

Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill 2023

News: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has backed the Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill 2023.

Background:
• The bill seeks to empower the Union government to – Notify the setting up of inter-services organisations, including joint services commands, and
• Give powers to heads of such organisations to act against personnel from any of the three services to ensure discipline and effective discharge of duties.
• The move comes 22 years after India created its first tri-service command — the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

What are the issues in current system of ISOs?
• The personnel in an ISO are currently governed by the respective laws of the three services – the Army Act 1950, the Air Force Act 1950, and the Navy Act 1957.
• The current legal framework has its limitations because officials from one service are not permitted to exert disciplinary/ administrative actions over members of another service. For example, a three-star general heading a joint command cannot act against air force or navy personnel serving under him.
• It is not only time-consuming but also has financial implications relating to the movement of the personnel where he needs to report to parent service units.

Key Features:
• Inter-services Organisation (ISO) - The central government may constitute a Joint Services Command. Existing ISOs (A&N Command, Defence Space Agency, NDA) will be deemed to have been constituted under the Bill.
• Superintendence of ISOs - The superintendence of an ISO will be vested in the central government.
• Command and control of ISOs - The command and control over the personnel serving in or attached to such an Organization will be vested in the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command of an ISO.
• Eligibility to be appointed as the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command - 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), or An Air Officer of the Air Force (above the rank of group captain).
• Commanding Officer - A Commanding Officer –will be in command of a unit, ship, or establishment and perform duties assigned by the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of the ISO. Will be empowered to initiate all disciplinary or administrative actions over the personnel appointed, deputed, posted, or attached to that ISO.

Significance:
• The proposed law will improve the functioning of ISOs as they will be able to work with greater independence.
• The bill will enable expeditious disposal of cases, thereby affecting the standard of discipline.
• The bill will also promote Integrated Theatre commands which is a long pending military reform in India. 

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