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Chandigarh road rage case: Army denied murder accused colonel’s custody

Court says accused is not in active service, sends him to 14-day judicial custody.

punjab Updated: Sep 05, 2017 13:07 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Colonel Manvir Singh Bains in the district courts in Sector 43, Chandigarh, on Monday.
Colonel Manvir Singh Bains in the district courts in Sector 43, Chandigarh, on Monday. (Karun Sharma/HT)

Declining the application of his unit’s commanding officer (CO), a local court on Monday sent Colonel Manvir Singh Bains — booked for murder in a road rage case on Saturday — to 14 days judicial custody.

Col Bains belongs to the 379 Army Service Corps of the Western Command, Chandimandir.

Protocol: What Army Act says
  • Section 125: When both criminal court and a court martial have jurisdiction in respect of an offence committed by an army officer, it is the commanding officer’s discretion to decide before which court the proceedings be instituted.
  •  Section 70(A):  In case of the murder of a civilian, an army officer can be tried in a criminal court, except when he is in active service or  outside India or at a frontier post.

The unit’s CO, Col Dhruv Gupta, had moved an application in court, seeking the colonel’s custody as is the protocol under the Army Act 1950. However, the court of judicial magistrate first class (JMIC) Jagmeet Singh declined it on the grounds that the colonel “wasn’t in active service”.  

The CO had moved a similar application before duty magistrate Geetanjali Goel on Sunday as well, but it was declined and the colonel was sent to a day’s police remand.

‘Officer on study leave’

Earlier, defence counsel Arshdeep Bhullar and Sumer Brar had contended that as per Section 125 read with Section 70 (A) of the Army Act, Col Bains’ custody be handed over to the military police.

At this point, the magistrate questioned the accused if he was in active service and even confirmed with the investigating officer if she was aware of it. Col Bains responded in the affirmative, following which the defence counsel elaborated upon how the colonel was on study leave, which meant “he was attached to the nearest unit – Western Command, Chandimandir”. “He is studying to serve for the army and is on duty and is part of the parades. A feedback is supposed to be given to the headquarters every six months for any such officer,” the defence counsel said in court.

Must read | Chandigarh road rage case: Just told Yadav not to text while driving, says accused colonel’s wife

The defence also contended that victim Praveen Yadav’s postmortem report had not been placed on record, to which the magistrate said it was part of investigation and it wasn’t necessary to provide it to the accused. 

Meanwhile, the magistrate also asked for the colonel’s medical reports and questioned him about a black mole on his left hand, to which he said it was a birth mark. At this point, the defence also stated that had this been a case of murder or even culpable homicide, at least some bodily injury or other concrete evidence would have been found. But no such injury marks had been found from either the deceased or the accused’s body, the counsel said. 

Now, Col Bains will be produced in court on September 18, the same day as he turns 49. 

Chandigarh road rage case: Victim’s wife inconsolable, kids ask when will father return

Army, police not on same page

Representatives of the army and police present in the court differed on the protocol and procedure followed in the case. While police maintained they had informed the army control room, Western Command officials said they got a call only after Col Bains was already in the lockup, even though they are supposed to be told in advance.

A written intimation was received only at 8:30pm on Sunday, more than 24 hours after the case was registered. An army officer, requesting anonymity, said: “We even asked for a copy of the FIR, but the cops refused blatantly, and said they could check about it from the higher authorities.” 

 Autopsy: Cause of death not clear yet

The postmortem report of Praveen Yadav, 48, the Sector 37 resident who died after being allegedly manhandled by Col Bains, is not clear about the cause of his death. Sources said doctors have indicated that the death was due to asphyxia (body being deprived of oxygen), but viscera report is still pending. They said Yadav was suffering from both hypertension and diabetes.