The Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938

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The Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act 1938 was enforced on 12th March, 1938. The act is an initiative to strengthen military operations, field firing and artillery practice. The act precisely deals with military operations and their operation in an area. The Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938 is divided into three chapters first part with manoeuvres, second part with field firing and artillery practice and third part deals in general rules to be made under the Act.

The State government can authorise manoeuvres or military operations in a specified area after notifying the same in official gazette. Such manoeuvres shall not exceed a period of more than three months. For a period of three years no manoeuvre shall takes place in an area where a manoeuvre has already taken place. It is mandated under section 2 sub clause (2) that the State Government shall issue a notice of intention to conduct manoeuvres prior to its publication in local official gazette any other notification shall be made only on expiry of three months. Such notice under sub clause (2) is required to be circulated in the local area where manoeuvre is likely to take place. That once notice has been issued in local official gazette the personnel’s of military forces shall start constructing military works of interim nature. Such works under the act are strictly to be conducted within the specified area. Such forces shall also supply themselves with water from any water source other than a water source owned by a private individual, religious denomination, and place of worship, burial grounds, factories, educational institutions or a monument. Once the period of manoeuvre expires the Officer incharge shall give requisite directions to restore the specified area. Incase any damage is caused by such manoeuvre; the person to whom damage is caused shall be compensated. The revenue officer shall inspect and consider the claims for compensation and try to settle damages on the spot. Incase a part is dissatisfied claim shall lie to collector whose decision will be final. The person so dissatisfied before filing an appeal shall notify the revenue officer of his dissatisfaction under section 6 sub clause (3) and give a fifteen day notice. The Collector shall constitute a committee headed by a chairman along with three other members. The collector shall himself act as Chairman. The Act also provides for penalties against a person who hampers manoeuvring activities or enters into premises where such activities are taking place. Such person shall be liable to pay a fine of rupees ten.

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Chapter 2 of the act deals with field firing and artillery practice. Under section 8 sub clause (a) field firing includes ‘air armament’ practice. In this case also sate government is empowered to authorise air armament practice within a specified area. The Government shall issue a notice of intention followed by an actual notice after two months in the official gazette. Such notice shall be notified to the occupants of the area by circulating it through vernacular newspapers, by beating of drums in the specified area or by affixing notices in prominent places of the area. Once notification by all means is carried out the armed forces shall carry out relevant practices in the area which includes field firing and artillery practices. The area wherein such practice shall take place will be declared as danger zone and its occupants and animals will be evacuated to another place. Incase a person suffers a loss while field firing or artillery operations takes place the same shall be compensated for the corresponding loss incurred. Incase a person wilfully transgresses into the area where such operations are taking place, or obstructs such activities or inhibits any necessary activities shall be penalised with fine under section 12 of the Act. The State Government is empowered under the Act to make rules in relation to manoeuvring, field firing and artillery activities.

Thus the Act ensures safety of individuals residing in areas where any military activity is likely to take place. The responsibility under the act is entrusted on State government who shall act judiciously and take all necessary steps before any activity of manoeuvring, field firing or artillery practice takes place.

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by Vibhuti Nakta