Libertatem Magazine

Accused In Summary Court-Martial Proceedings Can Take Legal Advisors

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Case Jaswant Singh v Union of India


The plaintiff was enrolled as a Sepoy on January 1, 2003 in the Indian army. A summary court-martial was organised on him on two charges. First one was for assaulting a superior officer while second was for using abusive language against a Subedar who pointed out that the plaintiff is not well dressed for the parade. The summary court martial acquitted him of second charge but found him guilty of the second charge. Summary court martial indicted punishment of dismissal from services and six month rigorous imprisonment in civil jail. Aggrieved by the judgement the petitioner moved to armed forces tribunal where the original application got dismissed.


The appellant submits that by letter on date 07.07.2009 he requested a commanding officer to permit him a legal advisor. On 08.07.2009 the request was turned down under the regulation of 479 of the army regulations, where a civil advocate or a legal advisor is permissible if in the case the plaintiff is sceptical of a death sentence as punishment. On the contrary rule 129 of Army Regulations deals with the representation of the accused by any civil advocate or a legal advisor if he permits to do so. Also, the defendant said that there was no any prejudiced caused to the plaintiff. For him, they take the reference in the judgement Major G.S Sodhi vs Union of India


The above reference case made paved the way for the judgement in this case. Facts on which in the reference case it was held that there was no any prejudiced caused to the defence of the appellant became the foundation of the court decision. In the present case the appellant was give seven years of rigorous imprisonment. He was pitied against his commanding officer. Under the rule 129 of army regulations there was no any cemented reason to deny him legal representation which he was intended to bear on his own expenses. So it’s a clear violation of natural justice. The prejudice seems to be evident. By the judgement of seven months rigorous imprisonment and taking back his services he was being curtailed of right to liberty and livelihood. So the final judgement basically stands on natural justice.So, the outcome came here that natural justice is that which resides in every human being and it must be exercised against everyone. This should not be done on the basis of race, cast, sex and type of job one do. And also the legal maxim audi alteram partem must be exercised which means no side should be left unheard. Everyone got equal opportunity to make his point.

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