An Army General Court Martial (GCM) on Sunday recommended the dismissal of a Major General from service in a 2016 sexual harassment case. The army officer has denied the charges. The charges against Major General, who was posted in the Northeast when the alleged incident took place two years back, were levelled by a Captain-rank lady officer, news agency ANI reported.
According to per Army rules, the recommendation of the GCM would now be sent to higher authorities including the Chief of Army Staff for confirmation. The higher authority has the powers to even change the sentence. Advocate Anand Kumar, representing the Major General in the trial, said they will be appealing against the order as the "(GCM) court has not looked into the defence case. Evidence has not been appreciated properly and the decision has been passed in a haste."
"He had been charged under section 354 of IPC earlier but the court gave special findings and held him guilty under section 354A of IPC," sources said.
The Major General, who had played a crucial role in one of the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in the last few years, claimed in a plea filed before the Armed Forces Tribunal that he was a victim of factionalism within the Army.
During the trial, the officer contended that there were certain issues raised by him, which have not been addressed by the authorities concerned.
The Indian Army has four kinds of court martial - General Court Martial (GCM), District Court Martial (DCM), Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) and Summary Court Martial (SCM). According to the Army Act, Army courts can try personnel for all kinds of offences except for murder and rape of a civilian, which are tried by a civil court. The Indian Army is still following the system of military justice it inherited from the British. The law in the United Kingdom has changed to keep pace with the modern practices of justice.
In a similar incident, the Indian Army in March initiated court martial proceedings against the former commanding officer of a Alwar-based military unit after a 27-year-old woman Army Captain levelled allegations of sexual harassment against the officer. The captain joined the Army’s Signals Corps as a technical officer in 2013. In August 2015, she filed a sexual harassment complaint against the commanding officer of her unit while she was posted at the Alwar military station in Rajasthan. In her complaint to higher authorities, the woman officer alleged that her commanding officer started sexually abusing her soon after joining her unit. He allegedly touched her private parts and made remarks like “Do you have a boyfriend?"
In 2007, a Major General had to quit Army after a woman officer alleged that he had touched her inappropriately while teaching her yoga.