//Samba spy case: High Court order set aside

Samba spy case: High Court order set aside

J. Venkatesan, The Hindu, March 23, 2006

Apex court remits matter for reconsideration

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a Delhi High Court judgment declaring invalid the court martial proceedings initiated against Capt. R.S. Rathaur and Capt. A.K. Rana involved in the 1975 Samba espionage case.

The Army had sentenced the two officers to 14 years imprisonment and they were dismissed from service and the High Court had quashed the proceedings and held that they were entitled to all consequential benefits. The Union of India preferred the present appeal in the apex court against this judgment.

Allowing the appeals, a Bench of justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Tarun Chatterjee said, "the High Court judgment is full of erroneous conclusions factually, which shows complete non-application of mind."

The Bench was of the view that the High Court had not discussed as to how the matters, which stood concluded, could be re-opened in the manner done. No sufficient grounds had been even indicated as to why the High Court felt it necessary to do so, the Bench said.

The Centre’s case was that in February 1971 Gunner Sarwan Dass was cultivated by Pakistan intelligence. In 1972, Capt. Ghalwat and Sarwan Dass crossed the international border. In 1973 Ghalwat and Sarwan were posted in Babina (Madhya Pradesh). 1n 1974, Gen. Aya Singh was cultivated by Sawran Dass for Pakistan intelligence and the espionage racket came to be noticed for the first time in 1975. A total of 42 Army personnel, including 19 officers, four junior commissioned offices and 19 other ranks were arrested. The two petitioners were those who were convicted.

The Centre contended that the matter had attained finality with the apex court deciding against the petitioners. However, the High Court had allowed the writ petitions though there was the same cause of action, it said and added that the writ petitions of the two officers were not at all maintainable.