Retd Brigadierís appeal for case transfer dismissed

The Chandigarh bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) Monday dismissed an appeal by Brigadier Surinder Singh (retd), who had been removed from service in 2001 for failing to prevent the Pakistani intrusions during the Kargil war, seeking transfer of the case to some other bench.

Singh had objected to the case being heard by administrative member, Lt Gen N S Brar (retd), arguing that he is friends with Brigadier Devinder Singh, who was the Brigade Commander of Batalik sector, in whose sector the infiltration had actually taken place.

Brig Surinder Singh, who was represented in the Tribunal by advocate M P Goswami, had brought before it that Brar, who heard the case on Monday as well, had attended the wedding of the daughter of Devinder Singh.

However the bench comprising Justice Rajesh Chandra, judicial member, and Brar as administrative member held that attending the weddings was a social obligation and thus cannot be justified as a ground for the transfer of the case to another bench.

The Tribunal however ordered that in case the petitioner feels inclined he can move an application before the Chairperson of AFT to seek the transfer of the case by 10 January 2013.

The Bench further observed that from the record it is revealed that the matter has been heard by benches with Lt Gen N S Brar as member on different dates earlier, however no objection was raised on those dates.

Brar had already previously heard the case on 17 January, 7 March, 8 July and 9 December 2011, but no objection was made on those dates, it noted.

The counsel for the petitioner, Advocate Goswami, had raised objections on the grounds of clash of interest. Goswami had stated that Brar attended the wedding in December 2009 and that Devinder Singh had been indicted for intrusions in his brigade sector and his performance during the conflict.

The Tribunal on Monday noted that Brig Devinder Singh's case relating to his role in Kargil conflict was decided in his favour by the Principal Bench of the Tribunal in May 2010.

"Attending the weddings of the kith and kin of the relatives, friends, associates and acquaintances of one is part of the social obligations. We fail to see that as to how one of us, Lt Gen N S Brar (retd) having attended the wedding of the daughter of Brigadier Singh, can be the grounds for the transfer of the case to some other bench. Under the circumstances, we again fail to see any conflict of interest prejudicial to the petitioner," the bench held.

Monday's order also drew reference to the contention of respondents in the case, Union of India, represented by senior panel counsel (SPC) Gurpeet Singh, that the plea for the transfer of the case to some other bench was a ploy to avoid the matter being heard for arguments.

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