Original Application No. 21 of 2013. Case: Pramod Kumar Singh Vs Union of India and Ors.. Armed Forces Tribunal

Case NumberOriginal Application No. 21 of 2013
CounselFor Appellant: R.N. Singh, Advocate and For Respondents: Asheesh Agnihotri, Standing Counsel, assisted by Kamal Singh, OIC Legal Cell
JudgesD.P. Singh, J. (Member (J)) and Air Marshal Anil Chopra, Member (A)
IssueArmed Forces Tribunal Act 2007 - Section 14; Army Act, 1950 - Sections 19, 192, 20, 20(3); Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) - Section 125; Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 11, 12, 13, 4, 5, 6,7 , 8, 9; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Sections 193, 323, 494, 498A, ; Special Marriage Act, 1954 - Section 4
Judgement DateJanuary 23, 2017
CourtArmed Forces Tribunal


D.P. Singh, J. (Member (J)), (Regional Bench, Lucknow)

  1. This is an application preferred under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 (in short hereinafter referred to as Act), being aggrieved with the impugned order of dismissal dated 09.12.2012, as contained in Annexure No. A-1(ii) to the petition on the ground of plural marriage.

  2. We have heard learned counsel for the applicant Col (Retd) R.N. Singh, Shri Asheesh Agnihotri, learned Standing Counsel, assisted by Col Kamal Singh, OIC Legal Cell, for the respondents and perused the record.

  3. The applicant was enrolled in the Indian Army (Bihar Regiment) on 02.01.1993. The controversy relates to the period when the applicant was posted at Muzaffarpur, Bihar w.e.f. 01.09.2010. The applicant was married to one Smt. Umrawati Devi daughter of Shri Teg Bahadur Singh, District Saran, Bihar. However, in spite of giving matrimonial name, it appears that the name of the applicant's wife was not entered in the required format of Army in his IAFF-958 at the time of enrolment. According to the material on record, Smt. Umrawati Devi married to applicant on 22.06.1991 but because of delay in publication of Part II order, the date of marriage was shown as 05.06.1996. According to the prosecution the applicant contracted second marriage on 20.11.2002 with the consent of his first wife Smt. Umrawati Devi because first wife was issueless due to gynecological problem even after 11 years of matrimonial life. It is further contended that both the wives lived alongwith the applicant from January, 2003 to January, 2005 at Danapur. When the applicant deployed in Nowshera (J & K), applicant's both wives went to the native place/village of the applicant and stayed there together. However, for some reason, it is alleged that the first wife of the applicant submitted an application for the grant of maintenance in the month of January, 2010 and punishing the applicant for contracting plural marriage. According to the respondents' version the applicant was on annual leave w.e.f. 08.01.2010 to 04.02.2010 and solved the problem with mutual settlement. However, he was facing two courts cases, filed by family members, one in criminal matter under Sections 323, 498-A and 494 I.P.C. in Sessions Court, Chhapra and another in Family Court, Chhapra under Section 125 Cr.P.C. for maintenance preferred by the first wife Smt. Umrawati Devi. When this fact was came to the knowledge of Commanding Officer on applicant's own information, after due notice he was dismissed from service on 08.01.1993 by the orders of GOC-in-C, Central Command for contracting plural marriage.

  4. The allegation with regard to plural marriage has been denied by the applicant and the applicant has submitted that there is no material on record, which may indicate that the applicant has ever entered with wedlock with another lady. It is also submitted that applicant's wife Smt. Umrawati Devi filed a case under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code before the Principal Judge, Family Court, Chhapra, which granted maintenance at the rate of Rs. 4,000/- per month to her. Smt. Umrawati Devi, applicant's wife also filed a criminal case on 13.11.2009 before the Sessions Court, Chhapra under Section 323, 498-A and 494 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the complaint was withdrawn by the applicant's wife Smt. Umrawati Devi on 20.12.2011, as contained in Annexure-3 to the application. It is also submitted by the learned counsel for the applicant that the material relied upon by the respondents with regard to plural marriage is 'acceptance of marriage' in a case filed in the Family Court. However, it is submitted that till date no competent court has recorded any finding against the applicant with regard to second marriage or plural marriage of the applicant. By the judgment dated 01.10.13 the Judicial Magistrate, Saran, Bihar has dismissed the complaint filed by the wife of applicant Smt. Umrawati Devi under Section 323, 494 and 499A of Indian Penal Code. Copy of the judgment and order dated 01.10.2013 of the Court acquitting the applicant has been annexed as Annexure No. S.A. 1 to the supplementary affidavit dated 03.03.2014. It is also submitted that in the absence of any conclusive finding by the civil court, only because in some document in certain papers of the proceedings pending in the trial court there is mention of second marriage, cannot amount to an admission of plural marriage, unless some categorical finding is not recorded by the competent court to this effect. Learned counsel for the applicant has relied upon the decisions of Hon'ble Supreme Court in the cases of Ram Parkash vs. The State of Punjab reported in 1959 AIR (SC) 1 and Mohd. Hussain Umar Kochra & others vs. K.S. Dalipsinghji & another reported in 1969 SCR (3) 130. In response to the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the applicant, it is argued by Shri Asheesh Agnihotri, the learned Standing Counsel for the respondents, assisted by Col Kamal Singh, OIC Legal Cell that the facts of the present case and facts of cited cases are totally different, hence the ratio of the citations, cited upon by the applicant is not applicable to the instant case and the original application deserves to be dismissed.

  5. Further submission of the learned counsel for the applicant is that the order of dismissal was passed at the time when the dispute between the applicant and his wife was pending before the competent civil court. Regulation 333-C(c) of the Regulations of the Army, 1987 prohibits to take action for plural marriage during the pendency of matter before the civil court. It is also argued that the order of dismissal has been passed in pursuance to provisions of Section 20(3) of the Army Act. There appears no dispute that the order of dismissal has been passed exercising administrative power for the plural marriage in pursuance of provisions contained in Section 20(3) of the Army Act. For convenience Section 20 of the Army Act is reproduced below:-

    20. Dismissal, removal or reduction by the Chief of the Army Staff and by other officers.- (1) The Chief of the Army Staff may dismiss or remove from the service any person subject to this Act, other than an officer.

    (2) The Chief of the Army Staff may reduce to a lower grade or rank or the ranks, any warrant officer or any noncommissioned officer.

    (3) An officer having power not less than a brigade or equivalent commander or any prescribed officer may dismiss or remove from any person serving under his command other than an officer or a junior commissioned officer.

    (4) Any such officer as is mentioned in sub-section (3) may reduce to a lower grade rank or the ranks, any warrant officer or any noncommissioned officer under his command.

    (5) A warrant officer reduced to the ranks under this section shall not, however, be required to serve in the ranks as a Sepoy.

    (6) The commanding officer of an acting non commissioned officer may order him to revert to his permanent grade as a non-commissioned officer, or if he has no permanent grade above the ranks, to the ranks.

    (7) The exercise of any power under this section shall be subject to the said provisions contained in this Act and the rules and regulations made...

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