High Court directs army to hand over unaccounted weapons to police
Lt. Col. Dharamvir’s case
IMPHAL | Sep 22
The High Court of Manipur has directed the Commanding officer (CO) of 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and Officer Commanding (OC) of M Sector Imphal West to inform and hand over the alleged unaccounted arms and ammunitions recovered from M-Sector to the Officer in-charge of City police station within fifteen days, in Lt. Col Dharamvir case. Dharamvir had exposed clandestine operations of some rogue army officers.
The High Court also directed the OC City police to take appropriate steps in accordance with the law before disposing the petition.
Nearly four months having released from alleged detention by the Army, following an order of the Manipur High Court, the army authority issued an order on November 2, ordering the attachment of Dharamvir from his posting in Maharastra NCC battalion to 56 Brigade Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.
The attachment order was issued on October 5, 2018 by the additional Director General, Discipline and Vigilance, Adjutant General Branch for disciplinary action under the provisions of the Army Instruction 330/86. The ground for the disciplinary action was based on the letter written by Lt. Col. RP Nanda, OC M-Sector to CO 3 corps mentioning that unaccounted arms and ammunitions were recovered from inside the barrack inside M-Sector, Imphal West.
The letter was written on July 2, 2018 after Dharamvir was allegedly detained by the army from M-Sector. The attachment order was suspended by the High Court of Manipur on January 1 last after it was challenged by Dharamvir. However, the High Court’s order was set aside by the Supreme Court on February 15 after the Union of India filed a petition for special leave.
Subsequently, Dharamvir filed another petition before the High Court praying for registration of FIR under the appropriate sections of the IPC and Arms Act, 1959 for the alleged recovery of unaccounted arms and ammunitions. He also pleaded the court to monitor the case through a Special Investigation Team.
The respondent number two of the case, OC city police station in his affidavit reportedly mentioned that the Army Act is a self-contained code governing persons subject to Army Act and in view of section 5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the provisions of the army act shall continue to apply to persons who are governed by the Army Act. Further citing a case of the Supreme Court of 2002 Chandra Prakash Tiwari Vs Shakuntala Shukla, the OC submitted that Dharamvir petition was not maintainable.
Moreover, the OC stated that the recovery of arms and ammunition was not brought to his knowledge by the petitioner or anybody to register an FIR and investigate it.
It is learnt that although the correspondent number 3 and 4 (CO 3 corps and OC M-Sector) did not filed their counter affidavit, the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) appearing on behalf of the respondents also raised objection as regards to the maintainability of the petition citing the Army Act.
In response, the petitioner’s (Dharamvir) counsel Shreeji Bhavsar, reportedly contended that instead of registering an FIR the respondent number 3 and 4, only disciplinary proceeding was initiated against the petition under the provisions of Army Instructions 30/86 after a gap of more than eight months. He alleged that a larger conspiracy had been hatched against his client by the respondents with view to protect themselves from being alleged guilty of committing offence of disappearing evidence.
Bhavsar also argued that section 36 of the Arms Act provides that every person aware of the commission of any offence under this Act shall, in the absence of a reasonable excuse, give information to the police officer in-charge of nearest police station or Magistrate. Moreover, section 37 provides that any person arrested and any arms and ammunitions seized under this Act by a person not being a Magistrate or a police officer shall be delivered to the officer-incharge of police without delay.
The High Court before passing the judgment observed that the weapons recovered from M-Sector was not in the presence of the petitioner or any civilian or independent witnesses.
It further pointed out that the respondents 3 and 4 have failed to register FIR which is mandatory under the provisions of Arms Act and consequently, termed their inaction as totally illegal.
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