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Delhi High Court on Monday, set asides the orders passed by ‘General Security Force Court’ which dismissed a Soldier from Serving as a ‘Quarter Master’ of the 123rd Battalion of the Border Security Force on a complaint filed by ‘Ration Under Officer’ alleging discrepancies in Ration store.

A decision of division bench headed by the Justice S. Muralidhar & Justice Talwant Singh came on a appeal filed in 1996 by S.S. Rana, soldier in Border Security Force served as a ‘Quarter Master’, who challenged the charge-Sheet dated 31/01/1994 and the consequent General Security Force Court (GSFC) Proceedings ended in dismissal of his services and Order of Central Government which rejected his representation but commuted dismissal Order to that of Compulsory retirement.

Delhi HC said, “the court is satisfied that not only was the procedure adopted not consistent with the requirements of the BSF Rules, but even the substantive charge against the petitioner was not proved. The court finds also that there was no occasion for the IG to have enhanced the punishment to dismissal from services. The Order passed. In this regard is an entirely non-speaking one which also renders it vulnerable to invalidation. For all of the aforementioned reasons, the court sets aside the Proceedings of the GSFC and the findings and sentence awarded to the petitioner. He is acquitted of the charge of committing the offence under Section 30 (f) of the BSF Act.”

The background facts are that the petitioner was, in the year 1990, working as a Quarter Master of the 123rd Battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) having been entrusted that duty by the Commandant of the said Battalion. The duties of the the petitioner included supervising the subordinate officials dealing in the procurement, distribution and accounting of rations. The petitioner states that he was assisted in his duties by Mr. David Topna, a Head Constable (HC) appointed as ‘Ration Under Officer’ by the Commandant. HC Topno’s duties were to procure, store, distribute, and account for the Ration, and maintain documents relating to purchase of Ration. HC Topno was working under the direct supervision of Subedar Buta Singh.

In, 1993, one Dr RB Singh found some discrepancies and reported against HC Topno to the commandant S. Jodha for taking action against the said Ration In-Charge. On which HC Topno made a statement before a court of enquiry, he had proceeded to Agartala and finalised a deal to sell 30 quintals of sugar at Rs 810/- Per quintal. He subsequently revealed that he retained Rs 550/- out of the above amount, and the balance of Rs 8,000/- was given to the petitioner on 27th October, 1990.

Following, which the charge sheet under Section 30 (b) of the Border Security Force Act, 1968 was issued against the petitioner.

The GSFC was convened with effect from 22 January, 1995 to try the petitioner for the charge of committing an offence under Section 30 (f) of the BSF Act i.e. doing “any other thing with intent of defraud, or to cause wrongful gain to one person or wrongful loss to another person”. The punishment for the offence is liable to be for a term which may extend up to 10 years.

Petitioner did not get a chance to call witnesses in his trail and written objections filed by him to the charge sheet were also disallowed by the GSFC.

Delhi High Court said, “one of the principle ground on which the petitioner has challenged the Proceedings leading up to the GSFC and the entire Proceedings and the punishment awarded by the GSFC is that the Petitioner was denied a fair trial and that he was wrongly denied the request for summoning and examining defense witnesses. That the entire conviction was based on the self-serving testimony of HC Topno, who was in fact a co-accused, and that there was no other credible and independent evidence to link the petitioner with the offence”.

“The Petitioner has in the meanwhile crossed the age of superannuation. The  Respondents  will  now  issue  appropriate  orders  on  the  basis  that  the Petitioner,  upon  his  acquittal from the  charge  under  Section  30(f)  of  the BSF  Act, would have  stood reinstated  in  service, and calculate  his  retiral dues  and pension  etc.  after  fixing  his  notional  pay  in  accordance  with  law.  This exercise be completed within a period of twelve weeks from today”, said Delhi HC.

-India Legal Bureau

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