The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has dismissed a petition filed by a lieutenant colonel challenging his trial by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a disproportionate assets case.
The bench, comprising justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen HS Panag (retd), directed Lt Col Ranbir Singh Yadav to approach the CBI court instead as he had claimed that the army authorities had already tried him for the same offence.
Lt Col Yadav was posted as Commanding Officer of the supply depot at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh from January 2002 to December 2003. The CBI registered a case against him on June 12, 2003, for demanding money from the father of an ice contractor following a raid at his house. The contractor used to supply ice to the army.
The case was transferred to the army, which issued a chargesheet on four charges, for demanding Rs 10,000, for asking money without proper authority, for disappearance of the bribe money and for having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The three charges could not be proved and the charge of disproportionate assets was not pressed as the CBI produced no evidence in support of this.
However, General Officer Commanding, Madhya Bharat Area, Maj Gen Ashok Khosla conveyed 'severe displeasure' to Lt Col Yadav on May 19, 2006 for having taken undue interest by involving himself in settling the financial dispute between contractors and also having called one of them to his house.
Meanwhile, the CBI lodged another FIR in the disproportionate assets case. According to the army authorities, Lt Col Yadav was asked to furnish details on assets, but he allegedly failed to do so. Another 'severe displeasure' was conveyed to Lt Col Yadav on September 30, 2006.
On October 10, 2006, the CBI Special Judge, Jabalpur, issued summons to Lt Col Yadav. He was advised by his superiors to appear before the CBI court in personal capacity and at his own expense. On November 16, 2008, he filed an application under the RTI for information regarding grounds of prosecution sanction, but was denied that in January 2009.
He moved the AFT, Chandigarh bench, in 2010, for impugning the action of the CBI for violation of Section 125 (relating to a decision whether to undertake a trial in a criminal court or a military court) of the Army Act.
Gurpreet Singh, senior panel counsel representing the Centre, submitted that the charge pertaining to the disproportionate assets case was under investigation by the CBI, which was not impleaded in the case.
The AFT bench ruled that Lt Col Yadav should approach the CBI court rather than the tribunal.