Thursday, March 12, 2015

Acquittal set aside by command, then convicted: India's out-of-date court-martial system

Buried in this story about the results of the Machhil Encounter Case, a high-profile Indian general court-martial, is the fact that one of those convicted had previously been acquitted:
The previous verdict of the general court martial, in November last year, had found former commanding officer of 4 Rajput Regiment, Col DK Pathania, Major Upendra Singh, Subedar Satbir Singh, Havildar Bir Singh, Sepoy Chadraban and Sepoy Narinder Singh guilty of murder and abduction and criminal conspiracy in the case.

However, [Abbas] Hussain [Shah] was acquitted for lack of evidence. After the court martial's proceedings were sent to the Northern Command headquarters, the Army Commander had returned the case for re-examination of the evidence concerning the role of Hussain.

The court martial proceedings will be finalised after confirmation once again from the Northern Command headquarters. The incident involved the abduction and murder of three youths of Nadihal Baramulla - Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Shafi Lone and Riyaz Ahmad Lone.
The Indian system needs to be updated. This is 19th century command-centric military justice with a vengeance. 

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