Army court-martials its first woman officer | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Army court-martials its first woman officer

For the first time in the Indian Army’s history, a military court on Saturday ordered the court martial of a woman officer for disobeying orders, levelling false allegations against her superiors and communicating service matters to the media, reports Rahul Singh.

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2009 08:50 IST
Rahul Singh

For the first time in the Indian Army’s history, a military court on Saturday ordered the court martial of a woman officer for disobeying orders, levelling false allegations against her superiors and communicating service matters to the media.

Captain Poonam Kaur had accused three officers, including her commanding officer and second-in-command, of sexually harassing her last year. She was then serving with an ASC (Army Service Corps Battalion) at Kalka near Chandigarh.

The judge advocate, who helped conduct the General Court Martial in Patiala, was also a lady officer. Ironically, three years ago she had accused a senior officer of molesting her in Nagrota near Jammu.

But for Captain Kaur (in her mid 20s) to be dismissed, the military court’s verdict has to be confirmed by the general officer commanding-in-chief, Western Command as the matter comes under his purview. Even after the sentence is confirmed, she could seek relief from a high court or the newly constituted Armed Forces Tribunal.

A court of inquiry conducted before the court martial had slapped 21 charges on Captain Kaur — whose father is a retired army havaldar —of which 11 were dropped, as there was no evidence to substantiate them.

The charges levelled against her included wrongfully getting married accommodation allotted and having an improper relationship with her driver.

In the past, women officers in the army have been ordered to face courts-martial for charges ranging from corruption to being absent without leave to professional impropriety. But none has been sacked.

Major Dimple Singla, from the army’s legal branch, had faced a court martial for allegedly demanding bribes during trials by the military court. The verdict is not out yet.

The Indian Air Force had for the first time dismissed a woman officer — Flying Officer Anjali Gupta—for indiscipline three years ago.

There are around 1,100 women (excluding lady doctors) among 35,377 officers in the army, some 750 out of 10,563 officers in the air force and 260-odd among 7,336 naval officers.