Col AK Dubey’s fight to secure justice for his only child, who died allegedly due to the negligence of the Army, got a huge boost on Thursday. Thirteen-year-old Ansh fell to death last year while parasailing at an Army camp.
Dubey and his wife Puja (37) had moved the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the Army chief to initiate action against officials responsible for the incident. This was after an Army court of enquiry proved to be a “cover up” and criminal proceedings initiated by a lower court made no headway.
After hearing a distraught Dubey who with tears in his eyes, appealed to the judge to “think for a minute as a father”, Justice GS Sistani directed the Army to hand over the copy of the findings and opinion of the court of enquiry set up immediately after the accident on June 8, 2007 at the camp conducted by the Jat Regiment at Bareilly.
A Class VIII student of Army Public School, Ansh died of head injuries when he fell on a rocky ground from a height of 150 feet, after the harness gave away. His parents allege Ansh was given a half-body harness while normally a participant is made to wear a full body one, which is tied to the chest and secures the body while gliding. They attributed the accident to absence of a qualified instructor at the site.
Dubey’s lawyer Rekha Palli told the judge the report of the findings, denied to them from the beginning, was crucial to pinpoint the laxity on the part of officials. Palli argued negligence was writ large in the copy of the statements of proceedings handed over to them in which safety instructor Naik Lokesh Kumar admitted he did not give proper briefing regarding safety aspects “due to paucity of time and to avoid causing unnecessary fear in their mind”.
Ansh’s parents said they are in the dark about post-enquiry action against the errant officials and termed it a “cover exercise and a sham”. Army officials said disciplinary action had been initiated against officers found negligent and argued as per Army Rule 184, the report of the findings could not be handed over to the petitioners. It also contended the Delhi High Court did not have territorial jurisdiction to hear a petition of an accident in UP.
But Justice Sistani said, “That stated rule is not applicable in this context. Let the documents be handed over. The issue of jurisdiction will be looked into later.” After the order, Palli submitted she was withdrawing the present petition to file a fresh “comprehensive” one incorporating the “negligence” of each officer and with new prayers.
Ansh’s parents had moved a Magistrate’s court in December last year, after the Court of Enquiry “failed to take any action”. It ordered registration of a case of causing death by negligence against Army officials — Commandant Brigadier DL Chaudhary, Deputy Commandant Rajesh Anand, Colonel VC Goel, Major Kartike Rao, Hawaldar Rajpal Singh and Naik Lokesh Kumar.
But for the Dubeys, the battle was only half won. There was no progress after that, as the police are yet to file the chargesheet.