Sunday, August 7, 2022

Supreme Court upholds Armed Forces Tribunal's refusal to reinstate Indian Navy Officer Cadet

The Supreme Court of India has refused to grant relief to an Officer Cadet of the Indian Navy who was reverted to his original rank and returned to his Unit from the Naval Academy where he was training to become a Commissioned Officer.

The Officer Cadet was originally a sailor in the ranks who was selected for a Commission for which he was training in the Naval Academy. He was, however, relegated twice for infractions such as possession of pornography, cigarettes and belongings of other Cadets. On one occasion, even a ‘seal’ of the government was found on him. After issuing him with Show Cause Notices twice, and finding no improvement in his behaviour, the Navy decided to revert him back to his service in the ranks without loss of seniority

The action of the Navy was challenged by him before the Armed Forces Tribunal which dismissed his case. Thereafter he challenged the verdict of the Tribunal by way of a direct statutory appeal to the Supreme Court.  

In the Supreme Court, it was averred that the principles of natural justice were not followed, and that, as per regulations, it was only the Central Government which could have ordered his reversion to the ranks.

Dismissing his appeal, the Supreme Court has held that the regulation cited by the sailor pertained to termination of service which the Navy did not resort to since he was only reverted back to his original service and cadre without terminating his services. The Court has observed that the Navy did not find him possessing the qualities as required by a Commissioned Officer and it had the full authority under law to take the action it had resorted to.

The judgment can be accessed here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Passing of Steven S. Honigman (1948-2022)

Yesterday's New York Times included a notice of the passing of Steven S. Honigman. Steve had a distinguished career at the bar and in public service, including major contributions to military justice. He graduated from NYU and Yale Law School. After a federal court clerkship, he attended the Naval Justice School and served on active duty for four years in the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps. For a number of years he chaired the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (a/k/a the New York City Bar), and shepherded through an important military justice reform proposal. He was a public member of the Military Justice Act of 1983 Advisory Commission and served for five years as General Counsel of the Navy during the Clinton Administration. In the Gilbert and Sullivan canon, Steve was especially partial to "I am the Monarch of the Sea (When I was a Lad" from Act I of HMS Pinafore. Sincere condolences to Steve's wife and daughter, Drs. Irene Finel-Honigman and Ana Finel Honigman.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Why might this be at court-martial?

KLDNews13 has a video report of a "Marine accused of fatally stabbing wife on H-3 could be turned over to the military for a court martial (sic)." The H-3 is one of Hawaii's Interstates, from the Honolulu area of Oahu island to Marine Corps Base, Kaneohe Bay. K-Bay, as we call it.

The report says that he is held in custody on second-degree murder charges. The reporter notes that the military has the death penalty. But the death penalty would only be for a conviction under UCMJ art. 118. Hawaii does not have the death penalty. 

The military equivalent of "second-degree" murder does not authorize the death penalty. I think voluntary manslaughter under UCMJ art. 119 is the closest analogy.

The spouse was pregnant, so the possibility exists of a second charge under UCMJ art. 119a at court-martial. Death is not an authorized punishment under this article. 

It does not appear the spouse is a service member.

The report notes (as we know) that civilian and military authorities frequently discuss jurisdiction when a service member is a suspect.

Uganda CDF to Special Investigations Branch: "pull up your socks"

The General Court-Martial in Uganda has a new chairperson, Brigadier Freeman Mugabe. Video of the installation ceremony can be found here. At the ceremony, the Chief of Defence Forces, General Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, criticized the country's civilian courts for interfering with the military court's ability to process cases in a timely fashion. Uganda's military courts regularly exercise jurisdiction over civilians accused of weapons offenses, even though human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavors military trials of civilians and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights is understood to bar it absolutely.