O.A. No. 19 of 2013. Case: C.L.K. Sudheer Vs Union of India. Armed Forces Tribunal

Case NumberO.A. No. 19 of 2013
CounselFor Appellant: Party-in-Person and For Respondents: K.M. Jamaludheen, Senior Panel Counsel
JudgesShrikant Tripathi, J. (Member (J)) and M.P. Muralidharan, Member (A)
IssueAir Force Act, 1950 - Section 18; Armed Forces Tribunal Act 2007 - Section 3(o); Army Act, 1950 - Sections 102, 103, 18, 39, 39(a), 63; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Sections 324; 452; 506(ii); Navy Act, 1957 - Section 15
Judgement DateDecember 12, 2014
CourtArmed Forces Tribunal

Order:

M.P. Muralidharan, Member (A), (Regional Bench At Kochi)

  1. This Original Application has been filed by Sudheer, Ex-Havildar Clerk No. 15361526 essentially against the punishments awarded to him on 18 July 2008 and 21 June 2011. The applicant has sought reinstatement with all consequential benefits, including promotion.

  2. The applicant was enrolled in the Army on 17 January 1988 as Infantry Soldier (Clerk General duty) in the Corps of Signals. After basic training, he was posted to 1 Signals Training Centre on 01 June 1989 and was subsequently transferred to the Dogra Regiment on 16 April 1990. In due course he was promoted to the rank of Havildar and was posted to the Records, Dogra Regiment on 02 October 2006 and served there upto 31 January 2012.

  3. On 07 March 2008 the applicant was sent on temporary duty to Delhi for collection of medals pertaining to the Dogra Regiment and he returned on 15 March 2008 on completion of the said duty. During the said period, on 12 March 2008, a complaint was received at the Records from the wife of the applicant that, at about 0400 hours on 12 March 2008 the applicant was in his home town at Kunnamangalam, Kerala and had stabbed his father-in-law. Based on the above, an inquiry was initiated, and subsequently disciplinary action against the applicant was initiated and he was awarded 'severe reprimand' (Annexure A7).

  4. About three years later when the applicant was on annual leave from 25 April 2011 to 21 May 2011, a complaint was received against the applicant from an Upper Division Clerk of Records Dogra Regiment, Shri Adarsh Kumar. Based on the complaint, the applicant was re-called by telegram from leave to report for duty to carry out investigations. However, he did not re-join duty till termination of leave. A Court of Inquiry was subsequently held, in which the applicant was found guilty of misleading the organisation by giving false facts. He was summarily tried and was awarded 'severe reprimand' on 21 June 2011 (Annexure A16). This punishment made him ineligible for extension of service of 2 years which had been granted to him and the applicant was transferred to Pension Establishment on 31 Jan 2012 on completion of tenure of his service under Item III(i) of Rule 13(3) of the Army Rules after rendering 24 years and 14 days of service.

  5. Heard the applicant appeared in person and Shri. K.M. Jamaludheen for the respondents.

  6. The applicant brought out that the applicant's relationship with his wife had been strained from the year 2006 and she had even filed a petition against him in the Family Court for maintenance and false criminal cases were filed against him by his in-laws. He further contended that his wife was in the habit of making frivolous complaints and allegations to the Army Authorities, which, in turn, affected the working conditions of the applicant in the Army. In March 2008, the applicant had been deputed from the Records Dogra Regiment at Faizabad for collection of medals at the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi. The applicant reached Delhi on 08 March 2008, but as it was a holiday, being a Saturday and next day being Sunday, the applicant reported to the concerned section on 10th and 11 March 2008, but was told to come on 13 March 2008 for collection of medals. So he remained in the Unit lines of Army Headquarters. When he returned to Unit on 15 March 2008 from Delhi his bags and other luggage were checked, which was when he was informed that they had a message from his wife about his attempt to stab his father-in-law. While the applicant explained that he was in Delhi, he was forced to make some statements and was treated like a criminal and a Court of Inquiry was initiated. After his release the applicant put up his grievances to the Commanding Officer. Since no action was taken he submitted a further ROG to the Commandant of Dogra Regiment.

  7. The applicant was subsequently charge sheeted under Sections 63 and 39 of the Army Act and tried by the Commanding Officer. Even though he pleaded not guilty and produced all material evidence he was awarded 'severe reprimand' (Annexure A7). The applicant stated that the trial was prejudiced. A criminal case was filed against the applicant in his home town to falsely implicate him as an accused. The applicant brought out that eventually he was totally acquitted in the criminal case. A copy of the judgment is placed as Annexure A9.

  8. While the applicant had filed a statutory complaint to the Chief of the Army Staff, it was not accepted by the Unit authorities and the applicant forwarded the same by registered post. However, there has been no reply to the statutory complaint to date.

  9. The applicant next contended that he was granted 27 days annual leave from 25 March 2011 to 21 May 2011 and had taken this leave to attend to the court cases pending against him at his home town, viz. the criminal case and the Family Court case and the Unit authorities were aware of this. On 08 May 2011 a telegram dated 27 March 2011 was found on the veranda of his mother's house, indicating that his leave has been cancelled for conducting an investigation. As per the applicant, though the telegram had been sent from Faizabad on 27 April 2011, and was received at Calicut on 28 April 2011, it was delivered only on 08 May 2011 (Annexure A13) due to lapses on the part of the BSNL. This was mainly due to incorrect address in the telegram.

  10. The applicant replied to his Unit by telegram stating that since the Court cases against him would come up for hearing on 10 May 2011 and non-availability of rail reservation and the distance of his home town from Faizabad, he be permitted to report to unit after completion of his planned leave. Since there was no response from the Unit, he started from his home town on the earliest availability of reservation and reached Faizabad on 15 May 2011. On reaching Faizabad, the applicant learnt that the UDC had filed a complaint against him in the Civil Court and the case was coming up on 16 May 2011. The complaint was dismissed by the Court as there was no truth in the case. Accordingly the applicant reported to his Unit on 22 May 2011 after completing his leave. However, the Unit authorities initiated action against him and a Court of Inquiry was convened. The applicant brought out that without considering any of his contentions, he was tried and even though he pleaded not guilty, he was awarded 'severe reprimand'.

  11. The applicant further contended that the said punishment tainted his Military service and adversely affected his further promotion and extension of service. The applicant also contended that the BSNL authorities when contacted regarding the telegram had clearly indicated that the telegram had been delivered late by them due to incorrect address and lack of suitable telegraph office near the village of the applicant. (Annexures A17 and A18).

  12. It was further brought out that the applicant, who had been granted two years of extension from 31 Jan 2012 to 31 Jan 2014, was served with a show cause notice on 25 July 2011 (Annexure A19), wherein only one day was granted to file reply to the show cause notice, which was against all norms of natural justice. The applicant submitted a statutory complaint (Annexure A20) on 17 August 2011 and as there was no response, he submitted a reminder on 02 Jan 2012 since he was due for discharge on 31 Jan 2012. However, the applicant was discharged from service without considering his statutory complaint, reply to which he received after six months of his retirement (Annexure A22 and A23).

  13. As per the applicant, he had an unblemished service till 2008 and the first ever punishment was given to him on 18 July 2008 and the second punishment...

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