The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has dismissed the appeal of Havildar Ashok Kumar, a senior non-commissioned officer, who had fired at and killed a major with an AK-47 rifle at Moltuk in Manipur.
The incident had taken place on July 15, 2008. Maj Ankit Bhardwaj was performing the duties of an adjutant at that time. He called Lt Sanchit Rathore to his office. When the latter reached there, he was asked why he had not reported with weapon and ammunition. Lt Rathore said he was not aware of the procedure. Maj Bhardwaj then asked him whether he was briefed by Havildar Ashok Kumar of the patrol team, to which he said no. After that, he called Kumar and asked him why he had not informed Lt Rathore about the reporting procedure.
As per the statement of Capt Sunil Anand, who was working as the regimental medical officer and was present in Maj Bhardwaj's room, Kumar admitted his mistake. In his cross-examination during the court martial, Capt Anand said Maj Bhardwaj had abused Kumar for the lapse when he was called the second time to the room.
Maj Bhardwaj had then gone to his room in the officers' mess with Anand. Kumar went there and fired 4 to 5 rounds at Maj Bhardwaj. Capt Anand then got up from his bed, pushed the accused and thereafter removed the rifle magazine. Maj Bhardwaj succumbed to his injuries.
The AK-47 was issued in Kumar's name. After the court martial, Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment, reduced in ranks and dismissed from service. He filed an appeal and claimed that no such incident took place and he had been falsely implicated in the case.
After going through the evidence, Justice Vinod Kumar Ahuja and Air Marshal SC Mukul (retd) dismissed the appeal and ruled that Kumar was rightly held guilty. "A young officer had lost his life due to the act of the petitioner (Kumar), which is punishable for imprisonment for life and, therefore, the guilt of the petitioner stood proved clearly under Section 69 of the Army Act (for committing civil offence), read with Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)," the judgment said.