The case of a female Indian Army officer


It is very difficult to for a person to judge another person. Major Dimple Singla is not an exception. Being a lady officer in Indian Army, one feels sympathetic about her even if she is at fault. However, the fact cannot be denied that justice is blind and rewards and punishment should be purely on merit.

The case of Major Dimple Singla is, in fact, an eye opener for the rest of the lady officer serving in Indian Army and Para Military Forces. It is pertinent to mention here that the article will skip all portions that are vulgar or below the ethics because repetition of such event is not good for the society even they are based on whole truth. Major Dimple Singla was commissioned in the Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch on March 8, 1997. She was a devoted and hardworking officer and was liked by her superiors. She earned good Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) and contributed positive for her branch.

After her marriage with a lawyer namely Ashish Pathak, she developed certain difference with her colleagues and superior officers in JAG Branch. Certain subordinates in her former office disclosed that after the marriage she could not tolerate any sexual harassment and snubbed others on pity issues. Still, everything was going smooth, when in connection with a controversial case pending at JAG Branch, a news item was published in local Indian newspaper on August 3, 2005, which blamed Major Singla’s husband,

Ashish Pathak for influencing Court Martial proceedings in which his wife was deputed JAG. The News Item highlighted story of brother of an Indian Army Jawan being tried by a court martial for murder, who blamed that Ashish Pathak had demanded money for influencing the court martial trial in his favour in which his wife was judge advocate.

Accordingly, Major Singla was suspended and a Court of Inquiry (CoI) was ordered by Headquarters Western Command, Chandimandir. The Court proceeding was held from August 5 to October 1, 2005. Witnesses against her were produced but she was not permitted to cross-examine the witnesses produced against her. There was general impression that the Court would give its findings against Major Singla.

The Court again assembled with a gap of six month, from 24 to 26 October, 2005, and recoded the statement of Major Singla. In February 2007, Major Singla was issued Charge Sheet for holding the GCM. On April 14, 2007, she filed preliminary objection before the GCM, questioning the jurisdiction and authority to hold the same. On May 7, 2007, the GCM passed the impugned order rejecting her jurisdiction plea.

Ironically, Major Singla had asked for eight defence witnesses to be summoned but her request was turned down by the President CoI on the grounds that they were not relevant. She also asked for five witnesses who earlier examined by prosecution but her request too was turned down. In the latest development, Major Dimple Singla was arrested by the Indian Army authorities on the corruption charge and allegedly evading appearance before a General Court Martial (GCM). The Indian Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) granted her bail on February 9, 2010 on bond of Rs 25,000 along with two sureties, one of whom should be a serving or retired Indian Army officer. In an order, the Bench directed Major Dimple Singla to appear before GCM on dates of hearings for the trial.

If we critically examine the charges against Major Singa, we can divide them into two; 1) An Army personnel, namely Rajiv Kumar was tried for murder by a GCM in which Major Singla was the Judge Advocate. Relative of the accused claimed that husband of Major Singla had coerced the accused to hire a lawyer recommended by him and also demanded Rs 2 Lakh from him for saving him and 2) Major Singla was removed in the middle of trial of an Non Commissioned Officer (NCO), charged with stealing Army rations, after the unit conducting the trial reported actions on her part.

The only pieces of evidences against Major Singla include; 1) The statement of an Army Captain (defending officer) and the accused, charged with stealing Army rations, that Major Singla was paid Rs 40,000 but she returned the amount, 2) A copy of the entire hand written record of the GCM proceedings (this record was made by the Judge Advocate in their own hand during the hearings were typed later) and 3) Records of telephone calls made from different cell phones belonging to her and her family members. To seek justice, Major Singla filed a petition before Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the orders of GCM rejecting her plea of jurisdiction. The Division Bench of the high court, comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal, has allowed a petition filed by Major Dimple Singla challenging the orders of GCM rejecting her plea of jurisdiction and has directed the GCM to pass fresh speaking orders on the jurisdiction issue.

One wonders, when it is the matter of Indian Army’s top influential officers, things are not taken seriously rather these are hushed up but when it concerns officer at lower ladder or women officer, exemplary punishments are awarded. We have before us Darjeeling Land Scam in which four Indian generals and dozen of other officers were involved but despite pressure from all walks of lives, action was only taken against one general on personal rivalry basis.

Although, Indian Minister of state for Defence M M Pallam Raju dismissed reports of factionalism but things are not that straight and now has become an open secret. Question arises that why only Lieutenant General PK Rath was penalized and rest of the three general including Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash, Lieutenant General Ramesh Halgali and Major General P Sen were not sacked.

Major Dimple Singla might be or might not be indulged in corruption but one thing is evident that the hidden hands against her were nobody else but her own colleagues with whom she refused to cooperate in their no-ethical designs. One wonders that the persons who are leveling allegation against her were themselves were murder and thieves. Why a guilty Indian Army Captain and relative of murder would offer gratifications to Judge Advocate, if they are clean, is a point that needs to be considered.

The evidences against her in the shape of entire hand written record of the GCM proceedings may be a trap by her opponents. Any accused would try to contact the last straw for saving his life or reputation, so record of numbers of mobile phone is just a lead not evidence. It is very difficult at this stage to comment about her involvement in corruption but she needs to be given fair chance in India’s male dominated society.

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