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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

HC annuls court martial 20 years after conviction

Bhartesh Singh Thakur , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 02, 2014
First Published: 11:06 IST(2/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:07 IST(2/7/2014)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday set aside a court martial of an Army Captain after a gap of over 20 years in a case of murder.

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A General Court Martial(GCM) trial was conducted which had dismissed Captain Parbinder Singh Gill from the service and sentenced him to life imprisonmenton November 3, 1993,for murder of a Yamunanagar resident, Varjinder Kumar. Captain Gill was commissioned in 1982 in 63 Cavalry of the Indian Army. While being posted at Ambala, he was detailed for certain internal duties in OperationR akshak- II in Punjab.

The allegations were that while on mobile military check post, Captain Gill abducted Varjinder and voluntarily committed theft of Rs. 32,200. It was further alleged that Gill, along with his accomplice, extorted money from Varjinder and caused death on March 3, 1993. However, the ‘body’ of Varjinder could not be recovered.

The high court, however, found several irregularities in the conduct of the trial by the GCM. It questioned the authenticity of the confessions allegedly made by Gill before his commanding officer. The original confession statement was neither ever placed on record no rany evidence wasled to establish that such a confession was actually made.

The court said that the GCM convening order on the face of it nowhere reflects under what warrants or authorisation Brig AS Bal, commanding officer, is signing as a convening authority — a serious illegality which nips the proceedings in its bud. Gill’s counsel Arun Singla had pointed out an element of bias where he produced a copy of an English magazine wherein the then general officer commanading, Lt Gen BC Joshi, issued a statement that Gill shall be exemplarily punished.

On this, the court said that it suggested inherent official bias of the authorities. The court further observed that the GCM trial proceedings were a case of denial of fair and reasonable opportunity to the defence to cross examine the witnesses of the prosecution in respect of their previous stand during the investigation by way of court of inquiry and which has seriously prejudiced the case of the Captain as well.

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