AFT commutes lady officer`s jail term
Chandigarh: Providing relief to Major (retd) Dimple Singla, the first woman army officer to face court
martial, the local bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has acquitted her of the charge of accepting bribe.
Ruling that the sentence awarded to her was "very harsh", the bench yesterday commuted her sentence of one year rigorous imprisonment awarded by the General Court Martial (GCM) to dismissal from service.
The order said Singla is to be deemed as dismissed from the services from the day she was discharged from the army.
Singla was acquitted by the GCM from the bribery charge in 2004.
However, the bench upheld her conviction under section 63 (violation of good order and discipline) of the Army Act for trying to arrange a counsel for an accused while herself being an advocate general.
The bench observed that the version of the witnesses in the case had many loopholes and it could not be ascertained that Major (retd) Singla had accepted the bribe.
The bench also observed that the GCM had not examined a crucial witness in the first charge of accepting a bribe.
Singla had moved the AFT against the decision of the GCM in which she was held guilty of three charges.
The army had ordered the GCM against Singla that ended on March 3, 2010, at Western Command at Chandimandir in Panchkula near here.
Meanwhile, Singla said that the fight is still on for her. "I am determined to take it to its logical end...I have
full faith in the system and I am sure I will be granted full justice."
Major (retd) Singla had joined the army on March 8, 1997. A court of inquiry was completed in 2005 against her. On March 7, 2007 she was to retire but section 123 of the Army Act was invoked, which empowers army to proceed with the trial against those who have retired.
The judgement said in facts and circumstances of the case as well as the fact that the appellant is a woman and has already been released from the service, the bench is of the view that it would not be proper to send her to jail.
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