Decided on March 23,2006


Referred Judgements :-



Arijit Pasayat, J. - (1.)These two appeals are directed against the common judgment of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. By the impugned judgment the High Court disposed of two writ petitions CW No. 3063 of 1995 filed by respondent - Ranbir Singh Rathaur and CW No. 4082 of 1995 filed by Ashok Kumar Rana. Alongwith these two writ petitions seven Letter Patent Appeals were also disposed of. These LPAs. are the subject matter of challenge in Civil Appeal Nos. 2951-57 of 2001 which were de-linked from the present two appeals by order dated 14.2.2006. The LPAs. and these writ petitions filed before the High Court were linked in the sense that in all these cases concerned writ petitioners were dismissed from service by the present appellants. They were all working at the relevant point of time in 168 Infantry Brigade, deployed in a place called Samba in the border areas. By the impugned judgment the High Court held that the proceedings initiated against the writ petitioners forming subject matter of the present appeals were void in law and the orders passed against these and the other officers who were appellants in the LPAs were vitiated being without any material and being a camouflage. The relevant portion of the High Courts order reads as follows:
Accordingly we declare that the proceedings initiated against the petitioners in the two writ petitions are void in law and the orders passed against the other officers, the appellants in L.P.As are vitiated being without any material and being camouflage. Having dropped the idea not to conclude Court Martial proceedings knowing fully well that the officers were likely to be acquitted, without producing relevant record before the concerned authority orders of termination were passed flouting all norms. The appellants in the LPAs and the petitioners in the two writ petitions are entitled to all the consequential benefits. We also hereby declare that the orders passed against the appellants in the LPAs are void in law and the conviction and sentence by the GOMs against the writ petitioners are void in law. Consequently, the judgment of the learned Single Judge which are set aside and the writ petitions in those are allowed and the Latent Patent Appeals stand allowed and the two writ petitions also stand allowed. All the writ petitions stand allowed to the above extent indicated and other reliefs prayed for cannot be considered by this Court and it is for the law makers to attend to the same. There shall be no order as to costs.

The respondents shall grant consequential reliefs to all the officers including all monetary benefits within a period of four months from today.

(2.)Factual background as highlighted by the appellants is essentially as follows:
In February 1971 Gunner Sarwan Dass was cultivated by Pakistan Intelligence. In 1972 Capt. Ghalwat & Gnr. Sarwan Dass crossed the international border. In 1973 Cap. Ghalwat & Gnr. Sarwan Dass were posted in Babina (MP). In 1974 Gnr. Aya Singh was cultivated by Gnr. Sarwan Dass for Pak intelligence. Capt. Nagial was then cultivated by Aya Singh for Pak intelligence. In 1975 for the first time the espionage racket came to be noticed. Aya Singh and Sarwan Dass were arrested. In 1976-1977 pursuant to the investigation 3 more Jawans were arrested. They corroborated the involvement of Sarwan Dass. Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh on further interrogation disclosed the names of Capt. Ghalwat & Capt. Nagial. In 1976-77 Capt. Ghalwat & Capt. Nagial were tried by General Court Martial and were convicted. Ghalwat was cashiered and given 14 years RI. Nagial was given 7 years RI and was also cashiered. In addition, 12 jawans were tried and they were given RI of various descriptions and were dismissed from services. Aya Singh and Sarwan Dass were also among the 12 jawans tried and held guilty. Later in 1978 it was discovered that Aya Singh was holding back certain relevant information relating to espionage activities under certain alleged threat and pressure. Wife of Aya Singh came to be killed. Reeling under the shock of the circumstances, he made further disclosures wherein he named Capt. Rathaur and Capt. A.K. Rana, the respondents in these appeals and he disclosed that he was receiving threats that if he disclosed anything his wife would be killed. Accordingly, in 1978 Capt. Rathaur and Capt. A.K. Rana were interrogated. As a result, 42 Army personnel were arrested. The 42 Army personnel included 19 officers, 4 junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and 19 Other Ranks (ORs.)

(3.)Out of the 19 officers, 3 officers were tried by General Court Martial, two were convicted, namely, Capt. Ranbir Singh Rathaur and Capt. A.K. Rana and one was acquitted. Capt. Ranbir Singh Rathaur and Capt. A.K. Rana were sentenced to RI for 14 years each and were cashiered. Against 13 officers, disciplinary actions were initiated. However, a decision was taken not to try them and administrative order under Section 18 of Army Act, 1950 (in short the Act) was passed terminating their services.

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