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Air Force Officer Acquitted in Oil and Lubricant Scam Due To Lack Of Evidence

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The Supreme Court dismissed a civil appeal filed by the Centre challenging the judgment by Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, Lucknow which set aside the order of the District Court Martial. The Respondent Corporal G.S. Mani was enrolled in the Indian Air Force in the trade of Equipment Assistant and was assigned duty in the Diesel and Petrol Store, information was received that seven barrels of diesel were unloaded in civil area and that he saw two airmen in uniform there.

A detailed report was sent by 4 Provost & Security (Unit), Air Force, Kanpur in which it was indicated that the Respondent, Equipment Assistant were involved in taking out Petrol, Oil & Lubricants belonging to Air Force Station, Kanpur. A Court of Inquiry was directed to be convened and in its report the Court of Inquiry found that DHPP quantity of five thousand eight hundred Litres and petrol of five thousand Litres was misappropriated.

Also, manipulation was done by raising gate passes for a quantity more than which was authorised by issuance of vouchers and by obtaining the signature of Senior Logistic Officer on such gate passes to take out kerosene, diesel and petrol and the second set of vouchers were prepared for the purpose of issuing gate passes when items were taken out of guard room, which were later destroyed after safe passage from the guard room and these misappropriated items were disposed in the civil area. On the basis of these findings, the Court of Inquiry recommended following actions like to initiate strict disciplinary action against Corporal C.B. Yadav (Respondent) and others involved in the said action and to make good the loss incurred due to such action as well as to recover the cost of quantity DHPP four hundred Ltrs. and quantity two hundred Ltrs. of petrol.

The proceedings of the Court of Inquiry were approved by the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Maintenance Command, pursuant to which disciplinary action was initiated against the Respondent and a charge sheet was framed and a hearing of charge under Rule 24 of the Air Force Rules, 1969 was conducted before the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief. After considering the summary of evidence, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief found that there was insufficient evidence to sustain charges and those charges were dropped. Thereafter, a District Court Martial for trial of the Respondent was convened which found him guilty and imposed a punishment of dismissal from service and reduction of the rank apart from sentencing him to rigorous imprisonment for three months. The same order was set aside by the Tribunal and the officer was directed to be in continuous service for the purpose of pension and other service benefits. However, his arrears of salary were confined to fifty percent.

Supreme Court after examining the evidence as to whether there is any iota of evidence against the Respondent came to the conclusion that it appears from the evidence that Corporal G.S. Mani was actively involved in the transportation of diesel barrels and loading and offloading in the civil area and no action was taken against Corporal G.S. Mani. Since, there was no evidence on record to connect the Respondent to the offence of illegal transportation of Petrol, Oil & Lubricants and in the view of lack of any evidence against him; the judgment of the Tribunal was upheld.

— India Legal Bureau

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