Under the Act the Tribunals have been given original as well as appellate jurisdiction. In its original jurisdiction, the Tribunal has been empowered to hear and decide grievances pertaining to service-matters such as those relating to remuneration, retiral benefits, tenure, appointment, seniority, promotion and superannuation among others. Prior to the establishment of the Armed Forces Tribunal, defence personnel had no other option but to approach the High Courts or the Supreme Courts under their writ jurisdiction to seek relief in such matters. With the creation of the Armed Forces Tribunals, they will now have access to an exclusive and specialized forum for speedy redressal of their grievances. The pending matters will also be transferred from the respective High Courts to the benches of the Tribunal.
In its appellate functions, the Tribunal has been empowered to decide appeals against the decisions given in Court-Martial proceedings. It has been given the power to enhance as well as commute sentences alongwith the authority to mitigate any punishments. Most importantly, the Tribunal will have the power to grant bail to persons placed in military custody.
Further more, the Tribunal will function as a court of record and will have the power to punish for contempt. It will exercise powers similar to those of a criminal court in respect of offences such as forgery, perjury and misrepresentation in the proceedings.
Retired personnel and their dependents can approach the tribunal for service related issues including any kind of pension.
It has been decided that a total of 15 benches will be created across India. Of these, three each shall be located in Delhi, Chandigarh and Lucknow, and one each in Calcutta, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kochi, Jaipur and Chennai. Delhi will be the principal bench and will have three courts and jurisdiction over state of Delhi. The Chandigarh bench will have jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The Lucknow bench will have jurisdiction over Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. The Kolkakta bench will have jurisdiction over West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Guwahati bench will have jurisdiction over Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. The Mumbai Bench will have jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa and Gujrat. While Kochi bench will have jurisdiction over Kerala and Karnataka. Chennai bench will look after Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The Jaipur Bench will have jurisdiction over Rajasthan.