Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bar & Bench notes The Yale Draft's implications for India

Decaux Principles Workshop
Yale Law School, 2018
Murali Krishnan, writing in Bar & Bench, reports here on "The Yale Draft" proposal to update the 2006 UN Draft Principles Governing the Administration of Justice Through Military Tribunals. Excerpt:
Advocate Navdeep Singh, who is the founder President of the Armed Forces Tribunal Bar Association at Chandigarh spoke to Bar & Bench about the relevance of the Yale Draft in the Indian context.

“Though military law is not draconian in our nation, it’s definitely outdated. The feature which stands out like a sore thumb is that there is no independence of various limbs of military justice wherein the prosecution, defence, confirming agencies, judge advocates, adjudicators, all function under the command of the same authority which is an interested party in prosecution and securing conviction. There’s not even a separate directorate or department of prosecution.”

Singh also spoke about the lack of qualification of jury members and the high conviction rate which was indicative of the absence of judiciousness, fairness and robustness.

“No member of the jury is legally qualified and courts martial are loose ad hoc bodies without permanent infrastructure. Senior military officers have the power to even overturn judicial verdicts rendered by courts martial. The system is proud of the high conviction rate and the swiftness of such convictions by courts martial, but this simply shows efficiency of procedure and not judiciousness, fairness or robustness.

It is hoped and expected that resistance by power centres to change or protect their turfs gives way to progressive thought. Former Defence Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar had taken keen interest in the matter and had directed the constitution of a study group in August 2016 on recommendations of a committee of experts, but no implementation letter has been issued till date on the direction of the then minister. A fair, just and independent system will only promote discipline and not the opposite, as it’s wrongly believed.”

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