Illegal arms sale: SC questions Army officers continuance in service
The SC questioned the government as to why it was allowing some Army officers to continue in service despite they being allegedly involved in illegal sale of weapons.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the government as to why it was allowing some Army officers to continue in service despite they being allegedly involved in illegal sale of weapons.
"Why they should be allowed to continue in service," a bench comprising justices SS Nijjar and MY Iqbal said while noting that despite having "glaring evidence" against them they are continuing in the service.
The bench also made a mention about three high-ranking officers of the level of Lt Colonel and Colonel who were allegedly involved in the racket and still serving in the Army.
"These three officers seem to be running an industry," the bench said, adding that consequences could have been different if they were proceeded in the civilian court of law instead of under the Army Act.
The bench also termed as "shocking" the punishment given to the erring officers.
Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhat submitted that action has been taken against them and there has been forfeiture of their salary of two to four years.
He said it was found that they were acting as "middlemen" for selling the `non-service pattern weapons` (weapons not for use by army after sometime and sold to army personnel), issued to fellow serving officers, to outsiders.
During the hearing, the Centre said that civilian courts have limited scope to interfere in these type of cases which are proceeded under the Army Act and are dealt through court of inquiry, General Court Martial and matters are adjudicated in the Armed Forces Tribunal.
The bench also expressed displeasure that in such a "serious matter", the affidavit was filed through the officers of the rank of joint secretary or under secretary.
It also wanted to know from the law officer, in such type of matter can`t a petition in public interest be filed under Article 32 of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.