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NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha passed the Inter-Services Organisation (Command, Control & Discipline) Bill – 2023 on Friday with the goal of giving the Commander-in-Chief and Officer-in-Command of Inter-Services Organisations complete disciplinary and administrative authority over the personnel serving in or attached to such organisations.

The Bill was first submitted in Lok Sabha on March 15; on April 24, the Speaker referred it to the Standing Committee on Defence for review and a report.

Currently, the Army Act of 1950, the Navy Act of 1957, and the Air Force Act of 1950 each have their own individual governing or regulating service acts that contain the provisions that apply to their respective people.

According to the Ministry of Defence, “The enactment of the Bill will have various tangible benefits such as maintenance of effective discipline in inter-services establishments by the Heads of ISOs, no requirement to reassign personnel subject to disciplinary proceedings to their parent Service units, expeditious disposition of cases of misbehaviour or indiscipline, and saving of public money & time by avoiding multiple proceedings.”

The MoD further stated that the Bill would pave the way for far more integration and jointness between the three Services, establish a solid framework for the future creation of Joint Structures, and further enhance how the Armed Forces operate.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh described the Bill as a component of a set of military reforms being carried out by the Government with the goal of empowering the country when he introduced it in the Lok Sabha. He characterised the law as a significant step towards greater jointness and integration within the armed forces in order to better meet upcoming challenges.

The ‘ISO Bill-2023’ is primarily an Enabling Act and does not propose any changes to the current Service Acts, Rules, or Regulations, which are tried-and-true and have weathered court review for at least 60 years.

Service members will continue to be controlled by their individual Service Acts while serving in or attached to an Inter-Services Organisation.

It gives Heads of Inter-Services Organisations the authority to use all disciplinary and administrative authorities under the current Service Acts, Rules, and Regulations, regardless of the service to which they are assigned.

Keeping in mind the current process of reorganising and integrating its Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) under theatre commands, it is a significant development. the reorganisation of military commands to best utilise resources by fostering cooperation during operations, notably by establishing joint or theatre commands.

Most of the service organisations were primarily made up of members of one service, such as the Army, Navy, or Air Force, at the time these respective Acts were enacted.

Today, there are many inter-services organisations, including the Andaman and Nicobar Command, Strategic Forces Command, Defence Space Agency, etc., as well as joint training facilities like the National Defence Academy and National Defence College, where members of the armed forces and other forces work together.

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