Six years after an Army jawan dismissed from service by a summary court martial (SCM) for allegedly threatening an officer by pointing a loaded weapon at an officer who had admonished him for not having a proper haircut, he has been reinstated in service by the Armed Forces Tribunal.
The jawan, Hav Nasik Raja, who was then posted in an artillery regiment under the Western Command, will also be entitled to all consequential; service benefits, including seniority and pay, and will deemed to have been in service since August 2006, when he was dismissed.
The AFT’s bench comprising Justice HN Sarma and Lt Gen KDP Samanta observed that the SCM was conducted hastily and in a haphazard manner with vital evidence, exhibits and witness either missing or being incorroborative.
The jawan was tried under Section 40 (A) of the Army Act for assault on a senior officer, which is according to statements made before the court, is a serious offence that should have been reported to higher headquarters and the alleged offender should have been tried by a general court martial. Instead of the jawan being arrested for the alleged offence, he was sent for psychiatric examination at a military hospital where he was declared fit.
The bench observed that from the statements and records of the trial it was clear that the accused had no intention of pleading “guilty” as reflected in the records. Even the said weapon was not produced during the trial and nor were the accused’s two immediate superiors summoned as witnesses.
The bench observed that the presiding officer of the SCM was very careless in the conduct of the trial and several technical lacunae and procedural errors showed a mechanical approach and lack of basic knowledge. Even the advice rendered on the SCM proceedings by Deputy Judge Advocate General 9 Corps, pointing out errors in the conduct of the trial went unheaded by higher authorities.