By Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma
It has been recently brought to light that a General Court Martial (GCM) within the Indian Army has delivered a resounding message on the importance of safeguarding the rights and dignity of children. The court has recommended a five-year jail term and the cashiering from service for a Major who was found guilty of sexual harassment that involved an 11-year-old girl.
The court martial examined the sexual harassment allegations raised by the victim’s mother and deemed them valid. The sources affirm that the Major, who was stationed in the Delhi Cantonment at the time of the incident, has been sentenced to five years in prison and stripped of military service.1
The victim is the daughter of a house help who resided in the servant quarters of the officer’s official accommodation making this case all the more distressing.
The historic decision came as a result of a court martial convened by the 7 Infantry Division Commander, Major General Y Sheoran earlier this year.
The punishment was handed down to the officer under Sections 10 and 122 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), as further said by the sources.
The legal proceedings, however, were not without controversy. The defense counsel, advocate Anand Kumar, raised concerns about the integrity of the disciplinary proceedings, alleging tampering with the court of inquiry and the summary of evidence. Furthermore, the defense’s request to summon the officer responsible for recording the summary of evidence was denied. The defense counsel also pointed out that their plea to examine the mobile phones of the victim’s parents was not granted, highlighting the complexities and intricacies involved in such trials.
The Indian Army, for its part, has reiterated its unwavering stance against any form of misconduct, particularly cases involving minors and has consistently emphasized a zero-tolerance approach towards such activities. The Army headquarters has instructed its formations to pursue the most stringent actions against personnel found guilty in such cases, reinforcing the commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and accountability within the ranks.
This case marks a significant stride in ensuring that those found guilty of such heinous offences face the appropriate consequences, reaffirming the principle that no one is above the law, and justice will be upheld, irrespective of one’s position or status.