The Supreme Court has recommended to the Centre to bring an amendment in the Air Force Act to set off pre-trial detention of a soldier against any jail term awarded to him by court-martial.
Under the existing law, pre-trial detention of Air Force personnel cannot be set off against the sentence of imprisonment passed in court-martial proceedings and the period of sentence begins from the date of signing of original proceeding by the Presiding Officer.
Pointing out that such amendments had already been carried in the Army Act and the Navy Act, a bench headed by justice BS Chauhan said the Air Force Act should also be amended to avoid hardships faced by Air Force personnel convicted by court-martial.
“Keeping in view the aforesaid amendment in the other two enactments...we think it apt to recommend (to) the Union of India to seriously consider to bring an amendment in the (Air Force) Act so that the hardships faced by the persons convicted by the court-martial are avoided,” the bench said.
The order came on a plea of an Air Force employee, sentenced to three-month jail term in a court-martial. He had sought a direction the authorities to release him on the ground that he spent one-and-a-half months in jail after conviction and the same period before the commencement of court-martial.
The court, however, refused to grant him relief saying, “There can be no scintilla of doubt that pre-trial detention cannot be set off against the sentence of imprisonment passed by the court-martial”, but recommended to the Centre to amend the Air Force Act.