Call it his hobby or a shortcut to quick buck. Army Major and a Commandant of a regiment Manjeet Ahluwalia is in deep trouble for a weird crime he committed while posted at Ramsar in Rajasthan in 1983.
He stole nearly 200 goats and sheep using his unit vehicle on numerous occasions and sold them. A court martial set up soon after villagers complained to the police found him guilty of “theft”.
He was “cashiered” (dismissal and denial of service benefits) and sentenced him to two years imprisonment.
On Thursday, 25 years later, the Delhi High Court rejected his appeal saying “looking at the status of petitioner who was in fact a Major and was even commander of a regiment at the relevant point of time punishment imposed on cannot be considered disproportionate”.
A Bench of Justices SK Kaul and Moolchand Garg was reacting to Ahluwalia’s contention that the sentence was “excess and discriminatory”.
“We find no infirmity in the order passed by the General Court Martial (GCM)…perusal of the chargesheet shows the charges are clear and unambiguous”, said the judges.
Army counsel Jyoti Singh had told the court “being the commanding officer of a unit, Ahluwalia was expected to set examples for the other personnel.
When he should have become a role model, he was indulging in such embarrassing crime. The exemplary punishment is fully justified”.
Ahluwalia had approached the court saying the proceeding of General Court Martial was “void” as it was not convened by appropriate authority but by a junior officer.