The Armed Forces Tribunal on Thursday dismissed the review petition filed by Colonel H.S. Kohli, who was sacked from the Army for faking encounters in counter insurgency operations in the North-East in 2003.
The officer — to whom a section of the media gave the sobriquet ‘Ketchup Colonel’ — had filed a review petition in the Tribunal, saying the decision to sack him from the Army was contrary to Defence Ministry’s decision-making process, where only loss of seniority of five years in service was recommended by the joint secretary concerned.
Rejecting Col. Kohli’s review petition, Justice S.S. Kulshreshtha said, “I have no justified grounds to review the case.”
The Tribunal had earlier rejected Col. Kohli’s main petition in January this year.
After the order, Col. Kohli’s counsel Dil Jeet Singh said that they would now approach the High Court on the issue.
“The tribunal dismissed our application without taking cognizance of the new evidence produced by us in the case,” he added.
Mr. Singh had earlier claimed that the ministry notings on Col Kohli’s dismissal orders show that the Under Secretary concerned had recommended commuting his sentence, which was accepted by the Joint Secretary, who was the competent authority.
But fearing media backlash, the Joint Secretary sent it to higher ups, who stuck to the dismissal order, he had alleged.
The review petition had sought the Tribunal to have a look at the decision-making process of the ministry in the case.
During the court martial, Col. Kohli was offered a plea bargain but later on he was dismissed from service, according to the petitioners.
Col. Kohli, commanding officer of an artillery regiment in Assam, had taken photographs of civilians splashed with tomato ketchup posing as corpses and gave them to his seniors to stake claim for gallantry award.
The incident took place at Bada Nagadun near Silchar in Assam and Col. Kohli was dismissed from the Army in November 2004 after a court martial found him guilty.
Later on it was claimed that Col. Kohli had followed orders from his superior Brig. S.S. Rao, who said he was taking directions from his superiors.