Learn about the recently passed Inter-Services Organisation Bill – 2023, granting disciplinary and administrative powers to military leaders. Understand its implications for integrated theater commands and improved coordination within India’s defense forces.
Empowering Military Leaders
The Rajya Sabha, on August 8, passed a significant bill that grants disciplinary and administrative authority to the commander-in-chief and officer-in-command of inter-services organizations over personnel from different services working in those organizations.
Introduction of the Bill
The Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control & Discipline) Bill – 2023 was introduced in the Upper House. However, opposition members walked out, demanding a discussion on Manipur violence. The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill on August 4. A parliamentary panel recommended passing the bill without amendments.
This bill aims to give power to the Commander-in-Chief and Officer-in-Command of Inter-Services Organizations to make decisions about personnel attached to these organizations. While the service members will still follow their Service Acts, the bill will allow the heads of these organizations to exercise disciplinary and administrative authority based on the existing service acts, regardless of the service the personnel belong to.
Central Government’s Role
Additionally, the bill empowers the central government to create Inter-Services Organizations, which lays the groundwork for establishing integrated theatre commands – a significant military reform.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh explained that modern warfare’s challenges require better coordination among the defense forces. This bill aims to achieve improved jointness and integration within the military.
Impact of the Bill
Currently, heads of inter-services organizations lack disciplinary and administrative powers. This results in the need to refer disciplinary actions to their respective services. With the bill’s enactment, inter-services establishments’ heads can maintain discipline more effectively, avoid referring disciplinary cases to parent services, and expedite the handling of indiscipline cases.
Precursor to Theaterisation?
When asked about the military’s theaterisation move, the defense minister indicated it’s too early to discuss it. However, he noted that if theaterisation occurs, this act could apply to theater commands through a regular notification.
Theaterisation is a major military reform to merge individual commands of the three services into tri-services organizations with shared military objectives. This bill is seen as a step toward establishing integrated theater commands. India’s Armed Forces plan to create three theater commands, one each facing Pakistan, China, and a maritime theater command for peninsular India.
Empowering Theater Commanders
The bill will empower theater commanders to take disciplinary and administrative actions without involving individual service units. However, this would require a separate government notification.