“Armed Forces’ judicial system is most appropriate” Organisation urges Antony to let Army proceed on its own

An organisation of ex-servicemen has criticised Defence Minister A.K. Antony for his “advice” to the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, to take strong disciplinary action, which may include court martial, against Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash.

Calling upon the Defence Minister not to subvert the procedures, the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement pointed out that there was no need for him to order a court martial when the Army chief was capable of taking action based on the legal advice at his disposal.

“Our [the Armed Forces’] judicial system is the fastest and most appropriate. We can’t afford to tolerate crime because we deal with arms and ammunition and are responsible for the honour of our country,” said the organisation’s Vice-Chairman, Maj. Gen (retd.) Satbir Singh, a gallantry award winner.

“This probably is the first time ever, where the Defence Minister has bypassed all laid down norms of propriety and the well tested judicial system of the defence forces. This is nothing but direct interference in the performance of duties of the Chief of the Army Staff. If appropriate corrective measures are not taken, it will deter commanders from using their discretion and taking bold decisions which are so essential in the battlefield scenario. I would therefore, implore the Chief of the Army Staff to kindly take action as per his own bidding which will enhance the prestige of the office he holds,” Gen. Singh said.

Drawing from his own experience when he was Brigadier Administration of the Unified Command in the North East, Gen. Singh pointed out that there were 2,800 cases against others in 1997 as against 14 against Army personnel. None of the others was disciplined whereas the Army found no case against seven and sentenced the rest, including some to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.

He also pointed out that a court martial had to be preceded by a court of inquiry and summary of evidence. “I would appeal to the Defence Minister to allow the Army to proceed on its own. We have the most appropriate system which is borne out by the fact that only four per cent of our disciplinary decisions are overturned by the courts,” he said.

The organisation recently spearheaded a movement to get a better deal for the former armed forces personnel and had returned thousands of medals to the government protesting their “shabby treatment.”

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