The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed two petitions challenging the Delhi High Court judgements about recruitment into the armed forces under the Centre’s Agnipath scheme, PTI reported.

The Agnipath scheme involves recruiting citizens between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 into the armed forces for only four years, with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years.

The announcement had triggered protests across several states as aspirants demanded permanent recruitment with pension benefits. Following the protests, the Centre extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment under the scheme for the first year.

In February, the Delhi High Court had dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the short-term military recruitment programme. The Supreme Court was hearing one of the petitions challenging the High Court verdict on Monday.

The other plea had sought the court’s directions to complete recruitment process that had been initiated by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force and discontinued after the introduction of the Agnipath scheme.

Advocate Arunava Mukherjee, appearing for the petitioners in the second plea, told the court that his client was not challenging the validity of the scheme altogether, Live Law reported. He contended that before Agnipath was announced in June, recruitment in the Army and Air Force through the earlier process had been postponed on several occasions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawyer argued that the exams under the previous recruitment process had not been cancelled, but only postponed.

However, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, who was leading the three-judge bench, said that those who participated in the previous recruitment process do not have any “vested rights”.

“The process which began earlier...physical and medical test happened but entrance test didn’t happen,” he noted. “And when the new scheme came, they [government] decided not to go ahead with this at all.”

The court also dismissed the petition challenging the Delhi High Court verdict. In this plea, Advocate ML Sharma had argued that the scheme could not have been introduced without passing a law in Parliament, Live Law reported.

In a third petition about recruitment in the Indian Air Force prior to the launch of the Agnipath scheme, the court commented that there was nothing arbitrary about not completing the earlier process.

The court, however, decided to hear this matter again on April 17.