Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tribunal tells Indian Army to produce GCM papers

About 35 years after five soldiers were sacked and jailed in the Samba Spy Case, the Armed Forces Tribunal today asked the Army to produce their court martial documents, raising their hopes of clearing their names in the infamous scandal. On a petition by Gunners Banarasi Das, Milkhi Ram, Satpal, Harish Singh and Balkar Singh, the Tribunal Bench headed by Justice SS Kulshreshtha said the Army should produce the documents by June 30 failing which “adverse inference” will be made about the Army’s contention.

Banarasi Das, Milkhi Ram, Satpal, Harish Singh and Balkar Singh, were sacked and jailed in 1975-76 after being held responsible of spying on the basis of statements their two colleagues Gunners Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh. They served jail terms between seven and 14 years. The appeals of the soldiers, making efforts to get their names cleared, were among the cases transferred from the high court to the Tribunal after it was launched in August last year.

“This is the first time in over 34 years since the case came up that we would get to see the court martial documents. I am hopeful that this will make it easier for us to get justice,” said Deepak Bhattacharya, counsel for the five gunners.In the case of two other accused, Captain AK Rana and Captain RS Rathore, whose pleas are still pending in the Supreme Court, the Tribunal said it would hear their case on September 7.

Rana said that he and Captain Rathore were acquitted of spying charges by the Delhi High Court in 2000 but the verdict was challenged by the Army in the Supreme Court. Rathore said that in custody of the Military Intelligence for over two years, Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh kept on adding names of officers and men in the list of spies working for Pakistan resulting in arrest of over 45 people around 1978-79.


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