AFT orders reinstatement of jawan dismissed for molestation

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
About five years after an Army jawan was dismissed and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment by a summary court martial for allegedly molesting the wife of another jawan, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has set aside the verdict of the court and ordered that he be reinstated in service with full consequential benefits.

The bench, comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen HS Panag, held that the charges levelled against the accused, Gurpreet Singh could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt. He was tried for two charges under Section 69 of the Army Act.

The alleged incident took place in 2005, whereas the summary trial was conducted a year after the incident. He was a member of the night guard troop when the wife of another jawan alleged that he broke into her first-floor house and molested her. The petitioner had contended that the statements of the complainant were inconsistent, false and the trial was conducted without adherence to the Army Act and the Army Rules.

The bench observed that there was no eyewitness in the case and the complainant did not identify the accused for two consecutive days immediately after the alleged incident despite all members of the guard troop being lined-up and ample opportunity being given to her. She only identified him from a photograph two days later.

On the other hand, the petitioner had a watertight alibi supported by three witnesses. The bench ordered that reinstatement of the petitioner be done in another unit and he would be entitled to pay and allowances from the date of his dismissal to the date of his reinstatement.

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