SC quashes colonel's court martial



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 CK 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.

PTI