UNION OF INDIA Vs. EX. NO. 3192684 W. SEP. VIRENDRA KUMAR
LAWS(SC)-2020-1-7
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on January 07,2020

UNION OF INDIA Appellant
VERSUS
Ex. No. 3192684 W. Sep. Virendra Kumar Respondents




JUDGEMENT

L.NAGESWARA RAO, J. - (1.)The order of dismissal of the Respondent was set aside by the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, Lucknow (hereinafter, 'the Tribunal'), aggrieved by which this Appeal is filed.
(2.)The Respondent was enrolled as a Soldier in 20 Jat Firing Team which was attached to the Jat Regimental Centre, Bareilly on 25.02.1999. A firing incident took place at around 8.45 a.m. on 02.10.2004, when the team was practicing firing at the Jat Regimental Centre. During the incident, Havildar Harpal and the Respondent sustained gunshot injuries. Havildar Harpal succumbed to the bullet injuries and the Respondent was admitted at the hospital due to injuries. A First Information Report was lodged at the Police Station, Sadar Cantonment, Bareilly. A preliminary investigation was initiated by the Staff Court of Inquiry as per the directions of the Station Headquarters, Bareilly which concluded on 25.11.2004. The General Officer Commanding 22 Infantry Division directed:
a) disciplinary action to be initiated against the Respondent for causing the death of late Havildar Harpal and for attempting to commit suicide.

b) to counsel Lt. Rajiv Menon for not implementing the relevant instructions during the conduct of firing practices at the ranges.

c) Late Havildar Harpal of 20 Jat Regiment was directed to be treated on bona fide Government duty and his death was held attributable to military service in peace.

(3.)The Respondent was kept in close arrest w.e.f. 27.11.2004 and was handed over to 7 Kumaon Regiment under the authority of Headquarters 49 Infantry Brigade. On 28.12.2004, the Respondent was tentatively charged with the murder of Havildar Harpal under Section 302 IPC read with Section 69 of the Army Act, 1950 (for short "the Act") and under Section 64(c) of the Act for attempting to commit suicide. 21 witnesses were examined in the summary of evidence and the Respondent was given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, which he declined. He was given an opportunity to make additional statement, which was also declined. Further opportunity given to him to adduce evidence was also not availed by the Respondent. Summary of evidence concluded on 07.02.2005. Additional summary of evidence was also recorded, which was completed on 03.06.2005. The General Court Martial commenced on 28.11.2005, and the trial was concluded on 16.03.2006. The General Court Martial convicted the Respondent under Section 302 IPC for the murder of Havildar Harpal and for attempting to commit suicide. The Respondent was sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life and to be dismissed from service. The statutory complaint filed by the Respondent was rejected by the Chief of the Army Staff on 16.03.2007. The validity of the order of the General Court Martial dated 16.03.2006 and the order of the Chief of the Army Staff dated 16.03.2007, rejecting the statutory complaint were assailed before the Tribunal.
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