New Delhi: The Supreme Court has quashed a
general court martial proceeding against an Army colonel,
allegedly begun for committing some financial irregularities
by him in making some purchases, but has rued the acquittal of
several other officers involved in the scam.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad set aside
the GCM proceedings, ordered against Colonel Rajvir Singh for
alleged financial irregularities, committed by him during
2005-2007, causing a loss Rs 60.18 lakhs to the exchequer.
In 2005-07, as officiating commandant of the Central
Ordnance Depot, Chheoki, Singh had procured materials worth Rs
2.2 crore, allegedly violating rules and causing wrongful loss
of Rs 60.18 lakhs to the state exchequer.
Singh had moved the apex court challenging an August 19,
2011 ruling of the Armed Forces Tribunal, rejecting his plea
that direction to court martial him was time-barred as Section
22 of the Army Act, 1950 provides that the trial must be
concluded within three years from the date of its cognisance.
"One feels sorry to see a trial on such serious charges
being aborted on grounds of limitation but that is the mandate
of the law.
"It is seen above that General Officer Commanding-in-Chief
(GOC-in-C), Central Command (CC) had come to know about the
offence and the offender being the appellant on May 7, 2007.
It took one year from that date for him to pass the order for
initiating disciplinary action against him on May 12, 2008.
"There were still two years in hand, which is no little
time but that too was spent in having more than one round of
hearing of the charges in terms of the rule 22 with the result
that by the time the order came to be passed to convene the
general court martial, more than three years had lapsed from
the date of the knowledge of the competent authority," said
Justice Alam, writing the judgement for the bench.