Indiscipline in Armed Forces can’t be tolerated: Supreme Court

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New Delhi: Observing that the charge of misconduct and indiscipline cannot be tolerated in Armed Forces, the Supreme Court has upheld the order of dismissal of ex-LAC Nallam Shiva as he overstayed the casual leave granted to him to visit his native home.

Giving this ruling a three-judge Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitav Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar said from the proved facts, it is evident that the respondent, Nallam Shiva overstayed for a period of around one-and-a-half years beyond the casual leave period, which is indubitably against the requirements of discipline.

Writing the judgement Justice Khanwilkar said if he was suffering from any illness personally or for that matter if his father suffered a paralytic attack, he ought to have gone to the military hospital for treatment. However, he did not choose to go to the military hospital but to a quack. This is a serious misconduct and cannot be countenanced in the disciplined force where the respondent was serving.

The court said from the established facts it would not warrant a lighter view, much less to direct reinstatement of the respondent, as has been done by the Armed Forces Tribunal. The respondent was enrolled in the Indian Air Force on March 28, 2006 and in due course of time was promoted to the rank of Corporal.

While serving in that capacity, he overstayed the casual leave granted to him from October 20, 2012 till November 4, 2012, until April 11, 2014, allegedly due to his illness and family problems. He was dismissed from service and awarded three months imprisonment, which he suffered.

The Bench while modifying the order of dismissal as discharge said the fact that he has already undergone punishment of sentence period for the offence of desertion also can be of no avail so as to interdict the decision of the disciplinary authority to dismiss the respondent from service.

To put it differently, in the fact situation of the present case, it is not possible to hold that the punishment of dismissal was vindictive, unduly harsh or disproportionate to the offence committed by the respondent and especially after the Tribunal has positively concluded that failure of the respondent to communicate either to his unit or to the nearest military station for around one-and-a-half-year was uncondonable.