HC quashes court martial verdict

Jammu Jan. 3. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered the release of a former Captain in the Army who was convicted during a court martial for alleged rape and dismissed from service.

Ravinder Singh Tewatia was sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment and his services were terminated by the Summer General Court Martial for allegedly raping a woman and her daughter in Nowgam village near Banihal on February 14, 2000. Action was taken against him after the villagers staged protests and lodged a complaint with the authorities alleging that four armed persons, including the Captain, forcibly entered the house of a resident and raped his wife and daughter.

Capt. Ravinder Singh challenged the court martial verdict in the High Court. Quashing the court martial proceedings, Justice Tejinder Singh Doabia of the High Court observed in his 35-page judgment that the victim's statement could not be believed because the victim as well as her father knew the petitioner but they did not mention his name in the FIR. Further, her statement that her uncle, father and other relations were beaten up could not be substantiated as there were no marks of injury on any part of their body. According to the prosecutrix, the victim was subjected to sexual assault twice, but this was not the story put forward at any stage and that she was not a truthful witness.

Regarding circumstantial evidence, it was observed that it was of no consequence as the two persons who were standing outside the house were standing at a distance and they had not seen the petitioner or his companion entering the house of the complainant.

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