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Armed Forces Tribunal Act- The Tribunal exercises jurisdiction, powers and authority against any ord

UNION OF INDIA & ORS   V   R. KARTHIK, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 831 OF 2015 – January 21, 2020

The bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Hon’ble Justice Hemant Gupta pronounced the Judgment against the order passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, Chennai.

The extract of the facts are that the superior officer Lt. Abhishek Vardhan made a complaint against his sailor R. Karthik for the use of force. Investigations were conducted and the investigating officer referred the case to the executive officer who examined the 3 witnesses of the case. However they were not cross-examined by the defending officer. The commanding officer accepted the charges to be proved u/s 45(a) of the Navy Act, 1957 and provided a detention period of 60 days and deprived the First Good Conduct Badge. However the Chief Naval Staff ordered dismissal and deprivation of First Good Conduct Badge which was challenged by the Sailor before the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, Chennai. The Tribunal found that the use of force was a consequence of provocation by the superior officer using abusive language. The superior officer was found guilty u/s 74 of the Act and was given punishment of one-month loss of seniority. Also the punishment of dismissal was set aside by substitution of 75 days detention which the sailor has since undergone with the punishment of deprivation of First Good Conduct Badge. This order was challenged by the superior officer before this court.

The counsel for the appellants argued that the sailor has hit his superior officer and thus is guilty of offence u/s 45(a) of the Act.

 “In terms of Section 15 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, the Tribunal exercises jurisdiction, powers and authority against any order, decision, finding or sentence passed by a court martial or any matter connected therewith or incidental thereto. Sub-section(6) of Section 15 of the AFT Act empowers the Tribunal to substitute the findings of the court martial which includes the disciplinary proceedings under the said Act (see Section 3 (f) of the AFT Act) and also to interfere if the sentence is found to be excessive, illegal or unjust.”

The court here observed that none of the three witnesses assert the hitting of the superior officer by the sailor. Also the superior officer was not examined by the investigating officer or the executive officer and also not cross-examined as per the proceedings. Also he was found guilty for using abusive language against the sailor. Also the senior officer has not appeared before the investigating officer or the executive officer. However the sailor’s act also cannot be condoned. The order passed by the Tribunal is within its jurisdiction.

Thus the appeal is dismissed by the Court.

View/Download the Judgment: Union of India & Ors  v.  R. Karthik

–  PRIYADHARSHINI R

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