Administration of Assam Rifles | 08 Sep 2020

Why in News

Recently, the Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to take a decision on the issue of bringing Assam Rifles out of the dual control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Key Points

  • Background:
    • A petition was filed by the Assam Rifles Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association seeking direction to the government for placing Assam Rifles under one control, preferably under the MoD.
  • Issue:
    • The administrative control of the Assam Rifles is with the MHA and the operational control of Assam Rifles rests with the MoD.
      • This duality of administrative control and operational control leads to problems of coordination.
    • The objectives and functions of Assam Rifles are that of military and paramilitary force and considering it anything less than that is arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of the rights of Assam Rifles personnel.
    • There is a disparity in the pay scale between the Assam Rifles personnel operating alongside the Army on similar duties.
  • Delhi High Court’s Direction:
    • The issue has been pending for nearly three years and now the Centre should resolve it within 12 weeks with cooperation from all the stakeholders.
    • It noted that “The matter involves servicemen/ex-servicemen and whose interest is not only to be paramount but is proclaimed from various platforms of the Government, to be paramount”.
  • Centre’s Stand:
    • The in-principle decision, that Assam Rifles like other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) should come under the exclusive control of MHA, appears to have already been taken but the final decision has not been made official yet.
    • The Centre has asked for a period of further six months as the process has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Assam Rifles

  • Assam Rifles is a Central Paramilitary Force under the Central Armed Police Forces.
  • It came into being in 1835, as a militia called the ‘Cachar Levy’, to primarily protect British Tea estates and their settlements against tribal raids.
  • It significantly contributed to the opening of Assam region to administration and commerce and over time it came to be known as the “right arm of the civil and left arm of the military”.
  • Major role post-Independence:
  • In November 2019, MHA proposed to merge it with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
    • ITBP is a specialized mountain force, raised in October 1962.
    • It is deployed on border guarding duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 km of Indo-China Border.

Source: TH