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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Court martial finds colonel not guilty in molestation case

As per Army Rules and Regulations, the findings of the court-martial are to be confirmed by the convening authority of the trial, which in this case, was the GOC-in-C Western Command, Lt Gen RP Singh.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Updated: May 19, 2020 11:44:46 am
GOC-in-C Western Command, Meerut court-martial, Western Command Colonel court-martial, India news, Indian Express With the GOC-in-C not confirming the verdict, the Army may now take administrative action against the Colonel, who retires next month.

A Colonel who has twice been found not guilty by a General Courts Martial (GCM) on the charges of outraging the modesty of a woman employee of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) now faces possible administrative action after the GOC-in-C Western Command did not confirm the verdict of the trial.

The court martial in Meerut had found the Colonel not guilty of the charges levelled against him. However, the verdict was not accepted by the higher authorities and was sent back to the court for re-consideration. On the second instance too, the court martial found the accused not guilty.

As per Army Rules and Regulations, the findings of the court martial are top be confirmed the convening authority of the trial, which in this case was the GOC-in-C Western Command, Lt Gen R P Singh. With the GOC-in-C not confirming the ‘not guilty’ verdict the Army may now take administrative action against the Colonel who retires next month.

The case dates back to 2015 when a women employee of NCC headquarters working in New Delhi alleged that the Colonel 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. The officer had also levelled allegations in writing against a Brigadier of JAG branch stating that he had demanded Rs 5 lakh bribe for getting himoff the hook and on his refusal to pay the amount, had allegedly ensured that he faced court-martial.

The Colonel was Commanding Officer of 20 Mizoram Independent Company (NCC) at the time of the incident and 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, the Colonel had 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.

The Colonel 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 had also mentioned 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.

It is learnt that the officer has now represented before the Westerrn Command authorities that no reason has been provided to him of non-confirmation of the ‘not guilty’ verdict. He has stated that the charge against him has tarnished his military character and reputation of his family permanently. He has asked for reasons to be provided to him for non-confirmation of the verdict so that he can challenge it in a court of law.

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