Supreme Court pulls up Navy for sacking officer
The Supreme Court Tuesday criticised the Navy for sacking an officer on the pretext of divulging classified information on social networking websites as well as over “moral turpitude” for sharing explicit messages and photographs with a foreigner, who was the wife of another officer.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu underlined there was no evidence of the officer divulging any secret information that could threaten the national security and hence dismissal on the sole reason of interacting with the wife of another officer could not be held to be sufficient.
“It shocks our conscience that an officer should be thrown out like this. How could it be the misconduct when two individuals are involved and how it would be detrimental to national interest? High rank officers meeting foreign nationals can’t be a taboo,” said the bench.
Dismissing the government’s plea to let it sack the commander, the bench asked: “Should the exchange of explicit material between the two adults in this scientific world be a ground for discharge from service? Especially when there is no complaint by anyone. In a society where we respect freedom guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, can we restrict the meeting of people with white skin?”
The court said the Armed Forces Tribunal was justified in setting aside the sacking of commander. “Where is the material to show his conduct was unbecoming of an officer? This lady, a foreigner, is married to an Indian. Will you ask the officer not to come with the lady only because she is a ‘gori’. In this society when you are married to an Indian and are a part of the Indian society, can this be done? I and you mix with foreigners,” observed the bench.
The court snubbed the government’s argument that the issue was serious enough to initiate a court of inquiry, asking how could innocuous messages between two adults threaten a force and the national security.
The Navy had alleged that the officer was leaking secrets including movement of warships. He was among three officers sacked from the Navy in May 2013 abruptly, without even a court-martial. An AFT bench in Mumbai had ordered in June 2014 that Navy’s decision to sack the officer was illegal and ordered that he be reinstated with full honours.
Source:: Indian Express