The Allahabad High Court has clarified that the punishment of reduction in rank and deprivation of good conduct badges awarded by means of summary trial can be challenged before the Armed Forces Tribunal.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi and Justice Om Prakash Shukla observed that, "the punishment of reduction in rank and deprivation of badges of good conduct awarded in summary trial are amenable to the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces Tribunal and can be challenged before the Armed Forces Tribunal constituted under the Act of 2007."

Counsel Manish Kumar Rai and Counsel Indrajeet Shukla appeared for the petitioner, while ASGI Devrishi Kumar appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the petitioner, a member of the Indian Navy, faced a summary trial for possessing unauthorized liquor bought from a military canteen. Despite explaining it was for a family event, he received punishment through reduction in rank and loss of good conduct badges. While contesting the trial's fairness and awaiting a decision on his representation, the petitioner was discharged after completing 15 years of service.

He filed an Original Application before the Armed Forces Tribunal, challenging both the trial's outcome and his discharge. The Tribunal, citing jurisdiction limitations, dismissed the application, leading to a rejected review.

The issue which arose for consideration was whether the punishment of reduction in rank and deprivation of good conduct badges awarded to the petitioner by means of summary trial, is amenable before the Armed Forces Tribunal or not.

On perusing relevant statutory provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, the Court observed that a greater responsibility is shouldered on the Tribunal as an appellate body to examine the details & nature of the said “summary court martial”, so as to uphold the rule of law and that of equal protection of law as is available to any citizen of this country.

It was further observed that, "in as much as this Court finds that Section 14 of the Act, 2007, reproduced hereinabove, clearly provides that the Tribunal shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, powers and authority, exercisable immediately before that day by all Courts in relation to all service matters. Further, Section 15 of the Act, 2007 empowers the Tribunal with the jurisdiction, powers and authority in relation to appeal against any order, decision, finding or sentence passed by a court martial or any matter connected therewith or incidental thereto."

In light of the same, the Court held that the application of the petitioner should have been entertained.

Cause Title: Ls Gi (S) Abhishek Kumar vs Union of India

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