The Hindu: New Delhi, June 9, 2010
Fifteen years ago, an Army jawan was dismissed for disobeying a superior's order to eat food. His dismissal has now been set aside by an Armed Forces Tribunal.
Signalman Ram Kumar Maurya was summarily court-martialled by the officiating commanding officer for “disobeying a lawful command given by his superior officer,” as he refused to eat food after having been punished on another charge of indiscipline.
On Maurya's petition, a tribunal Bench headed by Justice S.S. Kulshreshtha said the “disproportionality” of the sentence was “apparent” and “the summary court martial proceedings, including the sentence, are set aside.” Maurya would be deemed to be in service till the date he reached pensionable service.
While serving at 1 Strike Corps in Mathura, Maurya was awarded a 28-day simple sentence (of confinement) by his commanding officer on disciplinary grounds on April 6, 1995. In protest, he refused to eat food despite counselling by his company commander.
As he continued to be defiant, officers in the unit began disciplinary proceedings in form of a summary court martial and he was dismissed.
Maurya contended that “he could not have been ordered to consume his food. Whether he needed to eat or not was a personal decision and the Army could not order him to eat food.”
He termed the charges “incorrect, illegal and unsustainable” and said the punishment meted out to him was “grossly disproportionate” to the offence. Maurya also raised questions on initiating disciplinary action on grounds that he was placed under a medical category and diagnosed as a ‘psychiatric patient' and could not be court-martialled.
The case was transferred from the Delhi High Court to the tribunal after it was launched in August 2009.
Court martial for not eating is too much'
Red Tabbed full Colonels command units. How come officiating CO is made a scapegoat? Sounds like the red tabs always see red and no reason!
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