Petitions of Samba Spy case convicts dismissed

New Delhi: In a major setback to the personnel indicted in the Samba spy case, the Armed Forces Tribunal Monday dismissed their petitions as similar pleas were already rejected by the respective high courts earlier.

One of the seven petitions was also dismissed on the ground of delay in approaching the courts for justice.

Observing that the petitions were "not maintainable", the Tribunal Bench headed by Justice S S Kulshreshtha and Lieutenant General (retd) S S Dhillon dismissed them.

After the petitions were transferred from the Delhi High Court to the Tribunal, Army counsels Colonel Balasubramanian and Lt Col Naveen Sharma had filed a plea urging the Tribunal to reject the cases as similar petitions of the applicants were rejected earlier by high courts.

Of the eight petitions in the Tribunal, petitions of Captains Ranbir Singh Rathore, Sewa Ram and Ashok Rana and Gunners Banarsi Lal, Satpal Singh and Milkhi Ram were rejected as their petitions were dismissed earlier by high courts.

Petition of Gunner Hari Singh was dismissed due to delay of 24 years in approaching the court as his GCM was held in 1978 and he filed a petition in Delhi High Court only in 2002.

Reacting to the judgement, one of the petitioners Captain Sewa Ram said, "We have not yet seen the verdict but we would certainly consider the option of approaching the Supreme Court."

Around 50 personnel of 168 Brigade deployed along the Line-of-Control (LoC) were punished after being accused of spying for Pakistan on the basis of statements given by former gunners Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh during 1978-79.

The whole case was reopened after the Intelligence Bureau caught Dass and Singh on spying charges but they were not punished by the Army for espionage but for petty offences like being 'Absent without Leave'.

Dass had claimed in 1994 that he had falsely implicated the officers and jawans in the case under pressure from higher officers of that time.

Dass at present lives in his village near Jammu whereas Singh was reportedly shot dead by troops while trying to enter Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by crossing the LoC in 1990.