Army has to follow rules in court martial proceedings: SC | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Army has to follow rules in court martial proceedings: SC

As court martial proceedings entail grave consequences, an Army jawan has to be given the mandatory "96 hours time" from the time he is charged with an offence before being subjected to trial," the Supreme Court has ruled.

delhi Updated: Sep 27, 2009 15:21 IST

As court martial proceedings entail grave consequences, an Army jawan has to be given the mandatory "96 hours time" from the time he is charged with an offence before being subjected to trial," the Supreme Court has ruled.

The bench made the observation in a judgement dismissing the Union Government's appeal which had challenged acquittal of A K Pandey of 12 Corps Signal Regiment, Jodhpur, who was dismissed from service and sentenced to three years in jail by court martial proceedings on November 6, 1995.

"A trial before the General Court Martial (army court) entails grave consequences. The accused may be sentenced to suffer imprisonment. He may be dismissed from service. The consequences that may follow from non-observance of the time interval provided in Rule 34 being grave and severe, we hold, as it must be that the said provision is absolute and mandatory," a three judge bench of Justices B N Agrawal, Aftab Alam and R M Lodha said.

The charge against Pandey was that he had illegally sold a country-made pistol and one round of ammunition to another signalman J N Narsimilu of the same unit.

However, Pandey challenged his dismissal and conviction before the Rajasthan High Court on the ground that it was illegal as Rule 34 of Army Rules, 1954 which mandated a 96 hours gap between the time of charge and actual trial was not complied with.