Last three years were an ordeal 40-year-old Puja Dubey, an Army School teacher, would like to erase from her memory.
Wife of an Army officer, Dubey had been running from pillar to post seeking justice for her 13-year-old Ansh, who died after a fall from a height of 100 feet while parasailing during a camp on June 8, 2007, at Bareilly. The class VIII student of Army Public School died of head injuries on the spot.
Dubey alleged that negligence of army officials resulted in her son's death. The parents believe Ansh was given a half-body harness while normally a participant is made to wear a full body harness, which secures the body while gliding. They attributed the accident to absence of a qualified instructor at the site. But an army court of inquiry (COI) gave a clean chit to the officials.
"It was a sham and held in a most illegal manner without even associating me and my husband and Ansh's nine-year-old sister, who was an eyewitness."
But in a boost to her, the Delhi high court on Thursday ordered reconvening of the army's court of inquiry.
It also directed the Army Chief to decide if a Discipline and Vigilance (DV) ban (denial of promotions) can be imposed against six senior officials — commandant brigadier DL Chaudhary, deputy commandant Rajesh Anand, colonel VC Goel, major Kartike Rao, hawaldar Rajpal Singh and nayak Lokesh Kumar — as they have been chargesheeted by a criminal court.
"Not associating the parents, sister and some of the others who participated in the event renders the basic approach of the COI flawed…likewise as long as there is such a chargesheet, the Army chief cannot avoid taking a decision on if a DV ban is called for," Justice S Muralidhar said upholding the argument of Dubey's lawyer Rekha Palli.
After the COI clean chit, Dubey had knocked the doors of a magistrate's court, which ordered registration of a case of 'causing death by negligence' against army officials, who challenged it in Allahabad high court.