Daily Current Affairs Update: 20th March, 2023

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Court Martial

  • An Army court has recommended life imprisonment for a Captain involved in the staged killings of three men at Amshipora in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district in 2020. The sentence will be final after it is confirmed by the Northern Army Commander.

What is Court Martial

  • A Court Martial is a court for the military or a trial which is conducted in such a court.
  • A court-martial has been granted the authority to judge the guilt of members of the armed forces which is subject to military law, and, in the case, if the accused or defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment which they have to carry.

Exceptions of Court Martial

  • The military personnel cannot be tried under The Army Act if the crime is of: (i) Rape (ii) Murder (iii) culpable homicide not amounting to murder of a civilian, the trial of these crimes is to be held in civilian courts.
  • But even in these, there are certain exceptions to which the court martial has a jurisdiction to conduct the trial of these offences which are:
  • (i) The course (ii) Any place outside Inside (iii) Any border or frontier post directed by the central government through notification.

Types of Court Martial

  • General Court Martial
  • District Court Martial
  • Summary general court Martial
  • Summary court-martial

Eligibility for Court Martial

  • For conducting any trial under court martial there are certain eligibility criteria that must be met:
  • (i) The number of members must be at least five and almost nine.
  • (ii) All members must be knowledgeable of the naval law.
  • (iii) Minimum rank of each member must be lieutenant or higher.
  • (iv) Every member must be of 21 years and above.

The Procedure of court martial

    • Initiating charges
    • Entering pleas
    • Proceeding to trial

What is the Legal Recourse Available

  • Under section 164 of the Army Act 1950, the accused can file a pre-confirmation petition as well as one post- confirmation.
  • pre-confirmation petition will go to the Army Commander
  • post-confirmation petition must be filed with the government
  • After these options have been exhausted, the accused can approach the Armed Forces Tribunal

Drawbacks of court martial

  • When a person in service commits murder or rape against a civilian under the specific circumstance the court-martial has the jurisdiction to try the case.
  • At times the Commanding Officer or any higher authority impose very minimal punishment as compared to the offence up to the rank of Major.
  • The members of a court-martial or the deciding panel of the trial are not legally qualified nor trained regarding the sentencing of an offence.
  • The higher authorities conducting court-martial have unrestricted power to impose, cancel or decrease the punishment of the accused even in civil matters.

Can you go to Supreme Court against a court martial order?

  • In a landmark judgement, Armed Force Tribunal (AFT) ordered the defence ministry to pay a compensation of Rs. 4 crores to an officer who was court-martialed 26 years ago, the AFT also asked the Army to pay Rs. 1 crore in Army central Welfare Fund within four months and to restore the service of lieutenant SS Chauhan.
  • The petitioner was in the Sixth Rajput Battalion, posted in Srinagar when he was court-martialed on November 4, 1991, after being declared as deserted and mentally disturbed.
  • The order was approved by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Srinagar then.

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