Rajya Sabha passes ISO Bill – 2023

Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India on August 08, 2023, passed the (Inter-Services Organisation) ISO Bill – 2023.

Earlier on 4th August 2023, it was passed by the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament.

The ISO {Command, Control & Discipline} Bill seeks to empower Commander-in-Chief and Officer-in Command of Inter-Services Organizations (ISOs) with all disciplinary and administrative powers in respect of the personnel serving in or attached to such organizations.

Initiating the bill in the Upper House, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh described the bill as necessary to strengthen the Armed Forces in view of the global security scenario, emphasizing that only through better jointness and integration can the military move forward towards securing national interests.

Besides, the bill will ensure better coordination among the three services and bolster the integrated structure, he said, assuring the House that it will prove to be a milestone in the path to India’s military reforms.

The Raksha Mantri pointed out that today’s warfare is no longer conventional, but has become technology and network centric, which makes it even more important for the three Services to work with greater coordination to face future challenges faced by the country.

About ISO Bill – 2023

Currently, the Armed Forces personnel are governed in accordance with the provisions contained in their specific Service Acts – Army Act 1950, Navy Act 1957 and Air Force Act 1950.

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.

Furthermore, there will be no requirement of reverting personnel under disciplinary proceedings to their parent Service units, expeditious disposal of cases of misdemeanour or indiscipline and saving of public money & time by avoiding multiple proceedings.

The Bill would also pave the way for much greater integration and jointness amongst the three Services; lay a strong foundation for creation of Joint Structures in times to come and further improve the functioning of the Armed Forces. 

Salient Features

  • The ‘ISO Bill – 2023’ shall be applicable to all personnel of regular Army, Navy and Air force, and to persons of other forces as notified by the Central Government, who are serving in or attached to an Inter-Services Organisation.
  • This Bill empowers the Commander-in-Chief, Officer-in-Command or any other officer specially empowered in this behalf by the Central Government with all the disciplinary and administrative powers in respect of personnel serving in or attached to their Inter-Services Organizations for the maintenance of discipline and proper discharge of their duties, irrespective of the service to which they belong to.
  • The Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command means General Officer/Flag Officer/Air Officer who has been appointed as Commander-in-Chief of Officer-in-Command an Inter-Services Organization.
  • To maintain Command and Control in absence of the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command, the officiating incumbent or the officer on whom the command develops in absence of a C-in-C or Oi/C, will also be empowered to initiate all disciplinary or administrative actions overs the service personnel, appointed, deputed, posted or attached to an Inter-Services organization.
  • The Bill also empowers the Commanding Officer of an Inter-Services organization to initiate all disciplinary or administrative actions over the personnel appointed, deputed, posted or attached to that Inter-Services Organization. For the purpose of this Act, Commanding Officer means the officer in actual command of the unit, ship or establishment.
  • The Bill empowers the Central Government to constitute an Inter-Services Organization.

Noteworthy, the ‘ISO Bill – 2023’ is essentially an Enabling Act and it does not propose any change in the existing Service Acts/Rules/Regulations which are time-tested and have withstood judicial scrutiny over the last six decades or more.

Service personnel when serving in or attached to an Inter-Services Organization will continue to be governed by their respective Service Acts.

What it does is to empower Heads of Inter-Services Organizations to exercise all the disciplinary and administrative powers as per the existing Service Acts/Rules/Regulations, irrespective of the service they belong to.

Source: https://pib.gov.in/