The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has upheld the sentence of dismissal and one-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) awarded to an Army junior commissioned officer (JCO) in an incident of fratricide.
The sentence had been awarded by a summary general court martial (GCM) to the JCO for alleged cowardice and failing to act appropriately in the incident in which a lieutenant colonel was shot.
The AFT, in its order this week, observed that the response of JCO Sub Jaibir Singh showed cowardice in the face of the enemy wherein he, all along, focused and concentrated merely on self-preservation and had not taken any action to neutralise the jawan who shot the officer.
There were at least 50 armed persons at the post within 100m of the site of the incident and he could have ordered these troops to take action against the jawan. By his inaction, he has displayed cowardice and these facts have been amply proved by the testimony of not only prosecution witnesses but also the defence witnesses, the AFT said.
The evidence on record clearly establishes that during the incident in which Lt Col Saket Saxena was shot, the JCO did not take any action to control the situation.
This was despite the fact that he was the second senior-most person on the post and was also the platoon commander of the jawan who had shot the lieutenant colonel, the tribunal observed.
On October 31, 2006, jawan Suresh Chandra Behera, while posted with Delta Company of 28 Rashtriya Rifles, shot and killed Lt Col Saket Saxena, the Officer Commanding of the Company, and continued firing intermittently thereafter.
A court of inquiry had held the JCO blameworthy for the lapses and he was tried under relevant Sections of the Army Act. His trial had concluded in April 2007 and his appeal against the order before the Chief of Army Staff was rejected in 2009. Then, he sought judicial redress against his trial, contending that the charges against him were false and that there were procedural lapses during his trial.