From: Shashank Bendre email@example.com
Sent: 23 February 2010 14:07
Subject: Sukna Case COI and AFT Ruling:Disgrace for Armed Forces
I will appreciate if you can please convey my feelings on the subject to our colleagues in IESM?
Sub: Sukna Land Case C of I and its impact
The AFT has ruled that the Court of Inquiry held to inquire into the Sukna case be reopened to allow Gen. Avadesh Prakash to cross-examine the witnesses who deposed in the inquiry. This means that entire findings,conclusions and recommendations of the C of I could be turned 180 degrees around.
The AFT ruling is based on Rule 180 under the Army (and also Air force and Navy Acts) which lays down that ( The rule is so well known to us that I can still reproduce it almost verbatim 24 years after my retirement!) "when the Court, after examining a witness, is of the opinion that an individual is likely to be blamed or his reputation is likely to be affected, the entire proceedings of the C of I are read out to him. He is asked to be present during the entire later part of the proceedings of the Cof I and to make any statement in his defence and cross-examine any of the witnesses he likes or produce more witnesses on his behalf or more evidence in his favour." Since this procedural lapse took place in the Cof I which held Lt.Gen. Prakash to be blamed, the AFT ruled the way it has and there was no other way it could have ruled. Even the erstwhile 'Pilot Officer' or Second Lt. would know this rule back to front!
All of us have done scores of Cof Is in their careers and Rule 180 is like one of the 'Commandments' of the Bible on a Cof I. How can this fundamental principle be ignored by the Cof I, presided over by an officer of the Rank of Lt.Gen and other officers of the rank of Brigadiers who constituted the Court? And what about the staff officers scrutinising the completed proceedings of the Cof I at the Unit and Command/Corps Hq level and Army Hq? How could such a long line of officers with many years of service overlook this simple procedural lapse? This may lead to the conclusion that the Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Cof I were predetermined.
Irrespective of how the AFT Ruling affects Lt. Gen. Prakash, the impact of this on other areas will be:
1.At least one thing for the services to rejoice about is that AFT has proved itself to be capable in the first big case it has handled. and therefore can be trusted to hand out justice.
2. Make all the serving and retired personnel not only of the Army but also those of the other arms of the defence forces, hold their head in shame!
3.This dirty linen is being washed in public (in the Media). As it is, the Armed Forces seem to have lost their earlier glory and this very slip is sure to make them a laughing stock in the eyes of the general public.
4. The serving officers, especially the junior ones, will loose faith in the justice dispensation of the defence forces, leading to a lowering of the morale. They will think if this can happen to an officer of the rank of Lt.Gen., what justice can lower rank officers can expect from the organisation?
5. ... edited .... .
I am really saddened at this episode.
Wg. Cdr. (Retd)