The Territorial Army Act, 1948 was enacted on September 10, 1948 for the purpose of establishment of the Territorial Army. The Act defines ‘public utility service’ as any enterprise that furnishes power, light, water, or gas to the general public or carries public transportation service or upholds any method of public conservancy or cleanliness and which is affirmed by the Central Government as a public utility service to which the Act extends. But the Central Government shall not issue notification if it is convinced that the person engaged in the public utility service is made forcibly liable for service in the Territorial Army. The term regular army includes officers or other ranks according to their commission, conditions of enrolment etc are responsible to render military service continuously for a definite term under the Army Act, 1950.

The Act provides that Territorial Army shall be elevated and maintained in the prescribed manner under the Act. The Central Government may establish certain number of units under the Territorial Army and may scatter or reconstitute any such units. The Territorial Army shall consist of officers and enrolled person as its officials. The officers under the army are divided into two classes:

  • Officers holding commissions in the Territorial Army awarded by the President under description of rank that corresponds with commissioned officers of Regular Army under Government of India,
  • Junior commissioned officers with commissions in the Territorial Army awarded by the President with the description of rank that corresponds with the junior commissioned officers of the Regular Indian Army.

To enroll in the Territorial Army, a person shall be an Indian citizen and upon satisfaction of the terms and conditions be enrolled for a specified term according to the stipulations. A person working under the Government or in public utility service and reached twenty years but not exceeding forty years shall be liable to carry out service in the Territorial Army. But this shall be done according to the provisions of the Act and the rules made there under. After considering the emergency of service and power in the Territorial Army, if the prescribed authority is of the opinion that it is essential that the persons compulsorily obliged to conduct service in the Territorial Army should be identified for such service, it shall call upon persons accordingly. For calling for persons in the services, the prescribed authority shall consider age, physical conditions, eligibilities and experience of the persons and the character of work performed by them previously.

The persons whose services are demanded may be obligatory to join the Territorial Army as an officer or a person enrolled as per the rules framed by the Central Government. The Act excludes the following persons from the purview of persons working under the Government or public utility service:

  • Woman;
  • A person who is a member of Regular Army, Navy, Air Force or Reserve Force;
  • A person who is not an Indian Citizen;
  • Person working under the Government of foreign country for such term he is working;
  • Any other person excepted by the Central Government.

Where an offence is committed by a person punishable under the Army Act, 1950, such person shall remain in the military custody and tried and penalized according to the prescribed manner. Additionally, any person enrolled in the Territorial Army shall be punished by the Criminal Court or summarily by an authority prescribed by order, for any offence committed under the Act or for acting contrary to the provisions of the Act or rules formulated.

The Territorial Army Act, 1948 bestowed chance to the ordinary people to serve in the army by enrolling as an officer. To comply with the responsibility entrusted under the Act, the Central Government framed The Territorial Army Rules, 1948. In 1956, The Territorial Army (Amendment) Act was enacted on December 28, 1956 to further make changes to The Territorial Army Act, 1948. The Amendment Act inserted the word ‘public utility service’ and the accountability of persons for compulsory service in the Territorial Army.