Srinagar: Holding that army personnel have to be the people possessed of high moral values and practising utmost discipline, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has said that misdemeanour like rape by them cannot be compromised with.
The observations were made by a division bench headed by Chief Justice M M Kumar while upholding punishment of Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) to four personnel of army’s 4 Rashtriya Rifles for raping two women, one of them a teenager, at Aishmuqam, Anantnag in March 1996.
“Human being in itself is a complete universe. It comprises of different worlds, viz. human body; human mind (head and heart) and human conscience. Human being abhors and despises all kinds of abominable attempts and efforts which either result in the invasion of any part of its universe and/or places an adverse impact on them,” the division bench, also comprising Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, said.
“A human being is always in immense love with its own worlds and a forcible invasion of any of the above the worlds have a destructive impact on its entire universe,” the bench said.
“Additionally, a human being in collaboration with other human beings constitutes a society, a nation or a country, which is defined and identified by its boundaries,” it said.
“From the advent of human history, human beings have zealously and at all costs been guarding the territorial boundaries of their respective countries. At all times in the human history, armies have been raised to accomplish the purpose,” the bench said, underling that this class of people has all along been specially trained physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally to withstand all kinds external pressures and temptations.
“This special class of people called army stands guarantee to the sovereignty of a state and defend freedoms of its citizens,” the court said, adding, “The misdemeanor, more particularly, of the army personnel, which is of serious nature, cannot be compromised with. In order to preserve and maintain the territorial integrity of the country, the army personnel have to be the people possessed of high moral values and practising utmost discipline.”
The Army Act 1950, in the backdrop of article 33 of the Constitution of India, court said, is designed and engineered to ensure that the Indian army “becomes a model army in the world.”
“There cannot be any compromise with the standards and maintenance of discipline in the army. They are not only the sentinels of the frontiers of the country but are also sacred guards of the rights of the people.”
“Any invasion of the rights of the people by force cannot be tolerated,” the bench said, holding that the SGCM has been justified in awarding punishments to the army men.
The four army men had raped two women after barging inside their house on the pretext of carrying searches while male members of the family were out to offer prayers on the fateful day.
Later police had filed case (FIR No. 25/1996, u/s 452, 376 RPC) in police station Pahalgam and subsequently army initiated proceedings against the accused which resulted in convening of a SGMC on April 29, 1997.
The four men identified as Rajvinder Singh, Onkar Singh Chib, Surinder Kumar and Sanjay Prakash of were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for ten years and dismissed from service.
Two of them Surinder Kumar and Onkar Singh Chib had challenged the orders in two separate petitions filed in the High Court. A single bench of the court had allowed petitions after it re-appreciated the evidence of the witnesses, by recording a finding that two female prosecution witnesses, one married and the other unmarried, had given two different statements at pre-trial stage and during the trial of the case.
However, the orders were challenged by army by filing appeals before the division bench which upheld the punishment to soldiers.