SC stays AFT order setting aside sailor’s dismissal

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) order setting aside the dismissal from service of a sailor for slapping an officer and altering the punishment by directing him to undergo 75 days detention.

Issuing notice to now dismissed sailor R. Karthik, a vacation bench of Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice Arun Mishra stayed the operation of the order by the Chennai bench of the tribunal setting aside the dismissal.

As Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh urged the court to stay the operation of the AFT order, the court observed that the sailor had already regretted his conduct and apologised for the same.

Pressing for the stay of the order, Singh told the court that such a behaviour could not be condoned in the armed forces and the dismissal has been decided by the navy chief.

The court was told that the gravity of the offence gets further compounded as it happened in the course of joint naval exercise with another country (Brunei).

The tribunal, while upholding the summary trial of Karthik, held that dismissal from service was disproportionate to the gravity of the offence and altered it with a detention of 75 days.

Its February 6 order had said that after undergoing 75 days detention, the sailor would, within six weeks, report to designated naval unit.

The tribunal, while altering the punishment said that the act of officer concerned, Lt. Abhishek Vardhan, in instigating the sailor by using explicit abusive language needs to be considered while deciding the quantum of sentence.

The incident in question took place on May 29, 2013 on board INS Gharial which had sailed from Vishakapatnam to Brunei to participate in the joint exercise.

While on the ship, the members of the aviation core team were called for recovering a 42C helicopter. Karthik was called twice but reached half an hour later. On account of this, Lt. Vardhan used strong language that allegedly provoked the sailor, who had a Good Conduct Badge, and resulted in his assaulting the officer. Karthik had first Good Conduct Badge.

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