A General Court Martial (GCM) of Army has acquitted a Colonel rank officer of charges of outraging the modesty of a woman employee of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).
The GCM in Meerut acquitted Colonel Yudhvir Singh for the second time after it’s first verdict of acquittal had been referred back to it for re-consideration by the convening authority of the courts-martial. However, the members of the GCM have stuck to their original verdict having found no substance in the accusation made against the officer.
The case dates back to 2015 when a women employee of NCC working in New Delhi alleged that Colonel Yudhvir had held her hand when she was serving tea to him. He was tried under Section 69 of the Army Act read with Section 354 of the IPC.
The officer had made counter-allegations in his defence saying that he had been made a scapegoat as the original target was Colonel Mukul Dev of the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) branch who had been raising issues of impropriety in the Directorate General of NCC. Colonel Yudhvir had also levelled allegations in writing against a Brigadier of JAG branch stating that he had demanded Rs 5 Lakh bribe for getting him off the hook and on his refusal to pay the amount, had allegedly ensured that he faced court-martial.
Colonel Youdhvir Singh who was Commanding Officer of 20 Mizoram Independent Company (NCC) at the time of the incident had stated that he had come to meet Colonel Mukul Dev, who was at the time functioning as Joint Director (Discipline and Vigilance) in the NCC Headquarters, and was implicated in the case mistakenly in place of Colonel Mukul.
Alleging that there was a tug-of-war between civilian officers of the NCC headquarters and Army officers, Colonel Youdhvir has stated in his petition before Armed Forces Tribunal that one of the civilian officers who was involved in the unsavoury turf battles and who played a role in setting up the trap has been made the head of the inquiry in his case. Misuse of government transport by the civilian officers, including the inquiry panel head, for commutation from residence to the office, and drawing privileges of a higher grade than what was authorised by her has also been alleged in the petition.
Colonel Yudhvir had also levelled serious allegations in his petition about corrupt activities being covered up in NCC Headquarters in New Delhi on the behest of senior officers. He also mentions that there was intelligence feedback which informed the DG NCC that the petitioner has been implicated in a trap due to mistaken identity. He denied having misbehaved with a female staff member of the headquarters.
The Colonel had said in his defence that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 categorically provides that the investigations into the complaint is required to be made in accordance with the service rules applicable and as the applicant belongs to the Army, investigations are required to be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Army Act and Rules wherein no civilian can be member of such inquiry constituted under the provisions of Army Act and Rules.
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