SC quashes courtmartial against colonel

 The Sup­reme Court has quashed the general court martial (GCM) proceeding against an Army colonel for his alleged role in an act of financial irregularity, while lamenting the manner in which several other officials, allegedly involved in the scam, were let off.

A Bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad set aside the GCM proceedings against Colonel Rajvir Singh for alleged financial irregularities, committed by him during 2005-2007, causing a 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 the 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 judgment for the bench.

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