The Supreme Court has sought the response of the government to a PIL urging phasing out of all obsolete and outdated naval warships, submarines, arms and artilleries being used by the defence forces in order to save lives of jawans and officers.
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam admitted the petition filed by a group of six lawyers of the apex court and issued notice to the three armed forces’ chiefs and the Indian Defence Procurement Organisation.
Citing a number of incidents that claimed lives of personnel, the petitioners wanted the court to direct the government to prepare transparent guidelines for procuring arms, ammunitions, artilleries, front-line warships, submarines and allied defence equipments and indigenous manufacturing the most of those equipment.
“Last year’s explosion on board INS Sindhurakshak, one of the 10 significant accidents involving the Navy in the last seven months, caused more damage than the Navy ever suffered at war. Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi stepped down from the post on February 26. About Rs 2 lakh crore has been spent by now. But the Arjun Tank being designed by the DRDO is yet to be rolled out even after 50 years,” the petition filed by advocate D K Garg said.
The petitioners accused the political leaders of indulging in making huge money under the pretext of maintaining secrecy in defence procurements which was “obvious” from various scams that came to light recently.
Through their PIL, they also wanted to know the reasons for not manufacturing even basic materials like bullet-proof jackets, high-altitude clothes, anti-material rifles, ammunition for AK-47 rifles, gloves, special woollen sacks, snipper rifles, sleeping bags, mountaineering equipments, boots and others.
Referring to China, which has established “unimaginably” powerful Air, Navy and Armed forces equipped with the most modern armaments since 1962, they claimed that Indian armed forces, in contrast, have become “slaves” of several defence procurement bodies and procedures.
“It is unimaginable that though India has about 20 lakh soldiers and officers over and above various paramilitary forces, the ammunition used in AK-47 rifles are not manufactured here,” the petitioners said.