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Posted at: Apr 23, 2018, 2:50 AM; last updated: Apr 23, 2018, 2:50 AM (IST)

Colonel’s GCM set aside after 22 years

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22

Over 22 years after a Colonel was cashiered from service and awarded six months imprisonment by a general court martial (GCM) for alleged procedural irregularities in purchases, the trial has been set aside by the Armed Forces Tribunal on grounds of infirmities.

Though the officer died while fighting a legal battle against his court martial, his aged widow, who continued the fight, will now be entitled to receive pension as well as arrears.

Ruling that the petitioner is exonerated of all the charges and he shall be deemed to have been discharged from service after attaining the age of superannuation, the Armed Forces Tribunal ruled he will be entitled to pension and after his death his wife shall also be entitled to family pension.

The AFT also asked the respondents to ensure speedy compliance of the order keeping a humanitarian approach towards the widow.

Following advice of the Judge Advocate General’s Branch, Western Command, on the findings of a court of inquiry, a GCM convened by 9 Infantry Division in 1995 tried Col Dayanand, then commanding the division’s Ordnance unit, on four charges for intent to defraud that included awarding contracts to de-registered firms, accepting items rejected by a board of officers and splitting orders to bring their value within his powers.

The GCM held him guilty of two charges and awarded him five-year forfeiture of service for pension. The General Officer Commanding 9 Division ordered the court to reconsider the sentence and in March 1996, the GCM cashiered him. This was later converted to dismissal from service. “The order of revision passed by the authority who was not competent to confirm the findings or give direction for revision of findings of GCM is without jurisdiction, hence not sustainable, the Tribunal ruled while holding that the competent authority in the case was the GOC-in-C, Western Command. Since the petitioner was not afforded due opportunity to defend himself and the defence case put by him was not at all considered, the finding recorded by the GCM becomes unsustainable and deserves to be set aside,” the Tribunal added.

“The applicant was acquitted of the first two charges because of clear evidence that these two firms had not been de-registered. Such a major lapse on the part of prosecution in the GCM is very rare and reflects poor quality of investigation done...” the Tribunal ruled.

On the charge of accepting rejected items that were urgently required by troops, the Tribunal observed that an ordnance expert by and large corroborated the procedures followed by the petitioner and hence even if there were certain minor indiscretions by him. On the charge of splitting purchases, the Tribunal observed there was absolutely no allegation that he did so for his personal use or any amount was deviated to his own use.

Tried on 4 charges

  • Col Dayanand was tried for intent to defraud
  • Awarding contracts to de-registered firms
  • Accepting items rejected by a board of officers
  • Splitting orders to bring their value within his powers

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