Friday, April 22, 2011

It is never too late to order COI: Hon'ble High Court's Decision

Justice delayed is still justice

New Delhi 

In a landmark decision on Monday the Hon’ble Delhi High Court has directed Border Security Force to convene a Court Of Inquiry in a decade old case of an injury sustained by an officer of BSF. Setting aside BSF counsel’s contention that the concerned officer is now medically fit and that some of the witnesses have since retired, the double bench of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suresh Kait directed the respondents to convene a Court of Inquiry with respect to the alleged incident dated 28.09.1999.

The petitioner Raj Kumar Basatta, Second-in-Command in BSF, had claimed to have suffered an injury during Anti-insurgency Operation on 28.09.1999. The petitioner claimed that as a result of the fall he received an injury in the mandible. The petitioner claimed to have suffered an injury in the knee as well. As per the petitioner his jaw got fractured.

However, assessing the injury as a minor injury his commanding officer Sh A. Asthana, did not report the matter to his Hqrs and did not order the mandatory Court Of Inquiry to find out facts of the injury. As a result the officer did not get timely treatment and other benefits applicable in injuries sustained during action against armed militants. To make the matters worse Raj Kumar Basatta, with excellent professional credentials of being a Commando instructor and having stood first in Shooting Competition, was charge-sheeted for being absent from duty for treatment of his injury and was Court Martialled in 2001. Arguing for the officer Ms Rekha Palli, Advocate pleaded that in the absence of a fact finding inquiry the nature of the injury and urgency of treatment could not be considered by his commanding officer and GSFC. She further pleaded that though there is permanent deformity in the jaw still its status of having been sustained during an operation is not officially established and this might harm the interests of the officer in future.

The Hon’ble Court has directed that the order convening Court of Inquiry would be issued by the competent authority within a period of 8 weeks from the date of judgement.

This judgement shall rekindle the ray of hope for many brave soldiers of the motherland who suffer despite their sacrifices just because of callous and inefficient officials and babus who fail to perform their duties and then use the system to cover-up for their follies. 

Justice is still justice even if eleven years too late.

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