The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Monday commuted the punishment of cashiering of Lt Col Jaswant Singh to dismissal.
Cashiering is a dishonourable dismissal after which an officer loses the status of ex-serviceman and all benefits. He could now approach the president for pensionary benefits.
Jaswant Singh was station commander at Nahan from October 1999 to November 2001.
As station commander, his charter of duties included progressing on land cases at Nahan on behalf of the Army.
One of such cases with station headquarters, Nahan, was the acquisition of ‘Rose Villa’ land by the government.
The process for such acquisition had been on since 1980 and volumes of correspondence on the subject were exchanged with station headquarters, Nahan.
The land ‘Rose Villa’ is situated adjacent to the cantonment and a part of it was earlier hired/de-hired by the Army.
“Since the beginning, the primary concern for acquisition of ‘Rose Villa’ land and building was due to its proximity with military installations and the security consideration,” submitted Capt Sandeep Bansal (retd), counsel for the central government in the case.
For the said reasons, the owner of Rose Villa land from time to time was approached by station headquarters, Nahan, on behalf of the government not to sell the land as the Army was acquiring it. No objection certificate for acquisition of the said land was also obtained from civil administration.
Till June/July 1999, there had been no change in the stand of station headquarters, Nahan, with regard to the acquisition of Rose Villa, that is, security concern.
“But when Jaswant Singh joined, he recommended excluding part of land from acquisition.
Though aware of the fact that his wife bought that part of the land in 1999, through his correspondence on record he never disclosed it.
He also did not endeavour to tell these facts to visiting officers and commanders.
The matter was investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) and based on the facts brought out, disciplinary action was initiated against him,” said Capt Bansal.
A General Court Martial (GCM) in 2003 pronounced punishment of cashiering.
But after arguments in the tribunal (AFT) the findings of the GCM were upheld but his punishment was reduced to dismissal due to his meritorious service.