The Rajasthan High Court upheld show cause notices issued against two Army personnel.

They were charged with committing a civil offence under Section 69 of the Army Act, 1950 (Act of 1950), wherein it was alleged that the petitioners had committed an aggravated sexual assault by touching the genitals of a three-year-old minor child. They were also charged under Section 63 (acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline) of the Act of 1950.

After the completion of the proceedings, the petitioners were found guilty of the second charge and were convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 7 days. The sentence awarded was however enhanced by the Confirming Authority from 7 days to 2 months and 29 days of rigorous imprisonment.

Later on, the petitioners were issued with a show cause notice regarding the first charge and why their services were to not be terminated under Section 20 (3) of the Act of 1950 read with Rule 17 of the Army Rules 1954 (Rules of 1954). The petitioners argued that this notice subjected them to double jeopardy.

A Single Bench of Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhati observed, “It is a settled law that if the Confirming Authority does not confirm a finding on any charge, whether such finding is of “guilty” or “not guilty”, then the powers under Section 20 of the Act of 1950 read with Rule 17 of the Rules of 1954 shall be available to be exercised by the concerned Authority.

Advocate K.K. Shah represented the petitioners, while Dy. SG Mukesh Rajpurohit appeared for the respondents.

The Court explained that a Confirming Authority at the time of confirmation may once revise the finding and sentence and send the same for revision under Section 160 of the Act of 1950. The Court also observed that the finding and sentence cannot be held as valid unless it is confirmed by the Confirming Authority as per Section 153 of the Act of 1950.

The Court remarked that the petitioners were not found guilty of the first charge, but only of the second charge and stated that “only the finding and sentence on second charge was confirmed, which attained finality, but on count of nonconfirmation of the finding on the first charge not attaining the finality, the impugned action of the respondents is justified in law.

The Court observed that the petitioners were charged with a very serious offence and noted that the Army personnel were required to maintain good conduct and high degree of discipline, while strictly following the Rules and Regulation of the Army.

The Court held that “the Confirming Authority did not confirm the finding on the first charge and therefore, in absence of such confirmation, the respondents have rightly issued the impugned show cause notice under the aforesaid provisions of law.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: Gyan Bahadur Chhetri & Anr. v. Union Of India & Ors. (2024:RJ-JD:5139)


Petitioners: Advocate K.K. Shah

Respondents: Dy. SG Mukesh Rajpurohit, Advocate Uttam Singh Rajpurohit and Capt. Govind Chandiramani

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