17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Union of India (UOI) and Ors. Vs. Kartar Singh and Ors.




Judgment of acquittal may be reversed or otherwise disturbed only for very substantial and compelling reasons

In facts of present case, Dafadar Kartar Singh, the Respondent was tried by the Summary Court Martial for a civil offence of house breaking by night. He was found guilty of the charge and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven months apart from dismissal from service and reduction in the ranks. The conviction was set aside by the Armed Forces Tribunal. The Tribunal directed that the Respondent shall be deemed to be in service w.e.f. 10.11.1999 till the date of his superannuation in the rank of Dafadar. He was also held to be entitled to all allowances for the said period and pensionary benefits. Present Appeals are directed against the said judgment of the Tribunal.

The judgments of acquittal may be reversed or otherwise disturbed only for very substantial and compelling reasons. Very substantial and compelling reasons exist, when the trial court has ignored the evidence or misread the material evidence or has ignored material documents like dying declarations/report of the ballistic expert, etc. The judgment of the Tribunal cannot be sustained in view of the material evidence on record not being considered at all except for highlighting the contradiction in the evidence of Smt. Sudesh. The Tribunal miserably failed to consider the other oral testimonies, especially of Master Bittoo who was in the quarters at the time of intrusion, Lance Naik, A. Hussain-Court witness No. 1 who reached the place of the incident. All these persons spoke about the incident and there is no contradiction in their versions.

The other material on record has also been ignored by the Tribunal is the photograph of the bruises on both the arms of Respondent and the opinion of the doctor which was placed on record which lend support to the prosecution version. There is sufficient evidence on record to show that, house breaking had in fact taken place. In addition, material on record clearly points to the guilt of the Respondent. After examining the evidence available on record carefully, present Court is convinced that the judgment of the Summary Court Martial ought not to have been interfered with by the Tribunal.

In view of the aforementioned, the judgment of the Tribunal is set aside and the order passed in Summary Court Martial is restored. The sentence of imprisonment is however modified to the period already undergone. The other penalties of dismissal from service and reduction to ranks are restored. Accordingly, the Appeals are allowed.

Tags : Allowances Direction Legality

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