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Inter-Services Organisations (ISO) Act Notified

  • Context (TH I IE): Under the theaterisation plan envisioned by the GoI, the ISO (Command, Control and Discipline) Act has been notified in a gazette.
  • It is like an ‘enabling Act’, maintaining stability and reliability in existing Service Acts/Rules/Regulations.
  • Under the theaterisation model, the GoI seeks to integrate the capabilities of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy and optimally utilise their resources for wars and operations.
  • The Act would lay a strong foundation for the creation of joint structures in the future and further improve the functioning of the armed forces.
  • In high-level military reforms, the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was created in 2019 with the mandate to ensure “jointnessof the three services in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs, and maintenance.
    • The top priority for the CDS is the proposed reorganisation of the armed forces into integrated theatre commands.

Background

  • Currently, the Armed Forces operate under distinct Service Acts – the Army Act 1950, the Navy Act 1957, and the Air Force Act 1950.
  • However, the diverse nature of these acts has sometimes posed challenges in maintaining uniform discipline, coordination, and expeditious proceedings across the inter-service establishments.
  • The ISO Act addresses these concerns with its forward-looking provisions.

Salient Features of the Act

  • The bill’s applicability is comprehensive, extending to all regular Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel, ensuring a unified legal framework for the armed forces.
  • Under the bill, the GoI is vested with the authority to designate any force established and maintained within India. This designation will determine the applicability of the bill’s provisions, ensuring a flexible and adaptable legal framework.

Inter-services Organisation

  • Existing ISOs will be deemed to have been constituted under the Bill. These include:
    1. The Andaman and Nicobar Command,
    2. The Defence Space Agency, and
    3. The National Defence Academy.
  • The GoI may constitute an ISO, which has personnel belonging to at least two of the three services: the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

Expanded Command and Control Authority

  • Extension of command and control authority to the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of an ISO.
  • Unlike the existing structure, where these officers lack disciplinary and administrative powers over personnel from other services, the bill empowers them to exercise full command and control. This includes maintaining discipline and ensuring the proper execution of duties by service personnel.

Commanding Officer

  • It introduces the concept of a Commanding Officer responsible for overseeing a unit, ship, or establishment.
  • In addition to their unit duties, this officer also fulfils tasks delegated by the Commander-in-Chief or Officer-in-Command of the Inter-services Organisation.

Central Government Authority

  • The superintendence of an ISO will be vested in the GoI.
  • The GoI may also issue directions to such organisations on grounds of national security, general administration, or public interest.
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