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Ranjit Singh Chaurasia Vs. the Union of India (Uoi) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 354 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976All405
ActsArmy Act, 1950 - Sections 38 to 68, 71, 72 and 73
AppellantRanjit Singh Chaurasia
RespondentThe Union of India (Uoi) and ors.
Appellant AdvocatePrakash Gupta, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK. Burman and ;G.K. Sahai, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....of pay and allowances until any proved loss or damage occasioned by the offence of which he is convicted is made good' section 72, which empowers a court-martial to award the alternative punishments, provides: the use of the word 'and' between the words 'specified in clause (d) or clause (e) of section 71' and the words 'any one or more of the punishments specified in cluases (f) to (1) of that section clearly shows that these types of punishments may be inflicted in combination with some other type of punishment......punishments awardable by courts-martial, runs thus:--'71. punishment awardable by courts-martial.-- punishments may be inflicted in respect of offences committed by persons subject to this act and convicted by courts-martial, according to the scale following that is to say,-- (a) death; (b) transportation for life or for any period not less than seven years; (c) imprisonment, either rigorous or simple, for any period not exceeding fourteen years; (d) cashiering, in case of officers; (e) dismissal from the service; (f) reduction to the ranks or to a lower rank or grade or place in the list of their rank, in the case of warrant officers; and reduction to the ranks or to a lower rank or grade, in the case of non-commissioned officers: provided that a warrant officer reduced to the.....
Judgment:

G.C. Mathur, J.

1. The appellant was au employee in the Indian Army. He was tried, by a summary Court-martial for the offence of using insubordinate language to his superior officer. He was found guilty of the offence. The Court-martial sentenced him to three months' imprisonment as well as dismissal from service The appellant availed of the remedies available to him under the Army Act, 1950, but failed to get any redress. He thereupon filed a writ petition in this Court. The only point he urged before the learned Single Judge was that the summary Court-martial did not have the jurisdiction or power to inflict the punishment of dismissal from service in addition to the punishment of imprisonment for three months. The learned Single Judge did not accept this contention and dismissed the writ petition. Against the judgment of the learned Single Judge, this appeal has been filed.

2. Sections 34 to 68 of the Army Act, 1950, set out the offences punishable under this Act and the punishments that may be inflicted on conviction for these offences. The appellant was tried for an offence under Section 40(c) for using insubordinate language to his superior officer. The maximum punishment provided for this offence under Section 40 is five years. Section 71 of the Act, which prescribes punishments awardable by Courts-martial, runs thus:--

'71. Punishment awardable by courts-martial.-- Punishments may be inflicted in respect of offences committed by persons subject to this Act and convicted by courts-martial, according to the scale following that is to say,--

(a) death;

(b) transportation for life or for any period not less than seven years;

(c) imprisonment, either rigorous or simple, for any period not exceeding fourteen years;

(d) cashiering, in case of officers;

(e) dismissal from the service;

(f) reduction to the ranks or to a lower rank or grade or place in the list of their rank, in the case of warrant officers; and reduction to the ranks or to a lower rank or grade, in the case of non-commissioned officers:

Provided that a warrant officer reduced to the ranks shall not be required to serve in the ranks as a sepoy;

(g) forfeiture of seniority of rank, in the case of officers, junior commissioned officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers; and forfeiture of all or any part of their service for the purpose of promotion, in the case of any of them whose promotion depends upon length of service;

(h) forfeiture of service for the purpose of increased pay, pension or any other prescribed purpose;

(i) severe reprimand or reprimand, in the case of officers, junior commissioned officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers;

(j) forfeiture of pay and allowances for a period not exceeding three months for an offence committed on active service;

(k) forfeiture in the case of a person sentenced to cashiering or dismissal from the service of all arrears of pay and allowances and other public money due to him at the time of such cashiering or dismissal;

(l) stoppage of pay and allowances until any proved loss or damage occasioned by the offence of which he is convicted is made good'

Section 72, which empowers a Court-martial to award the alternative punishments, provides:

'72. Alternative punishments awardable by court-martial.-- Subject to the provisions of this Act a court-martial may, on convicting a person subject to this Act of any of the offences specified in Sections 34 to 68 inclusive, award either the particular punishment with which the offence is stated in the said sections to be punishable, or, in lieu thereof, any one of the punishments lower in the scale set out in Section 71, regard being had to the nature and degree of the offence.' Section 73, which provides for combination of punishments, is in these terms:--

'73. Combination of punishments.-- A sentence of a court-martial may award in addition to, or without any one other punishment, the punishment specified in Clause (d) or Clause (e) of Section 71 and any one or more of the punishments specified in Clauses (f) to (1) of that section.'

3. The contention of learned counsel for the appellant is that under Section 73 the summary Court-martial could not award the punishment of dismissal from service in ad-i-tion to the punishment of imprisonment awardable under Section 40(c). According to learned counsel, under Section 73 the punishment specified in Clause (d), or Clause (e) of Section 71 alone can be combined with one or more of the punishments specified in Clauses (f) to (1) of that Section. Learned counsel would have us read Section 73 as though it stood as follows:--

'A sentence of a court-martial may award in addition to the punishment specified in Clause (d) or Clause (e) of Section 71 any one or more of the punishments specified in Clauses (f) to (1) of that section.' We can see no justification for omitting the words 'or without any one other punishment'

and the word 'and' from the section. The use of the word 'and' between the words 'specified in Clause (d) or Clause (e) of Section 71' and the words 'any one or more of the punishments specified in cluases (f) to (1) of that section clearly shows that these types of punishments may be inflicted in combination with some other type of punishment. The other types of punishments can only be those specified in Clause (a), (b) or (c) of Section 71 which are punishments prescribed by Sections 34 to 68 for the various offences mentioned therein. The words 'in addition to, or without any one other punishment' have also to be given some meaning. In our opinion, these words cover the following two situations, namely,

(i) in addition to any other punishment; and

(ii) or without any other punishment. Read thus, Section 73 empowers a Court-martial to inflict in addition to the punishments specified for the various offences in Sections 34 to 68, the punishment specified in Clause (d) or Clause (e) of Section 71 and also any one or more of the punishments specified in Clauses (f) to (1) of Section 71. It also empowers a court-martial to inflict the punishment specified in Clause (d) or clause(e) of Section 71 together with any one or more of' the punishments specified in clauses(f) to (1) of that section even if the punishments provided in Sections 34 to 68 are not inflicted.

4. Learned counsel for the appellant urged that, on this interpretation, Section 72 will become redundant as section 73 itself would empower a court-martial to award the punishments specified in Clauses (d) to (1), even when the punishments specified in Sections 34 to 68 are not inflicted. In our opinion, the scope of Section 72 is different from that of Section 73. Section 72 empowers a court-martial to inflict some alternative punishment in lieu of the punishments prescribed by Sections 34 to 68. Section 73 empowers a court-martial to combine various types of punishments. Where a court-martial does not desire to inflict the punishments mentioned in Sections 34 to 68 but desires to award an alternative punishment lower in scale set out in Section 71, it has to exercise the power under Section 72; but where it desires to combine more than one Punishment, it has to take recourse to the power under Section 73.

5. On our interpretation of Section 73 as set out above we are of opinion that the summary court-martial in the present case had jurisdiction under Section 73 to inflict the punishment of dismissal on the appellant in addition to the punishment of imprisonment for three months. The order of the summary court-martial was in accordance with the provisions of Section 73 and cannot be successfully challenged as being without jurisdiction.

6. The appeal is without merits and is hereby dismissed. Parties will bear their own costs of this appeal.


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