Madras High Court says tainted armymen can be tried in criminal courts

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Chennai, July 15 (ANI): The armed forces personnel accused of committing murder, rape and other such crimes can be tried in a criminal court and not necessarily through court martial, the Madras High Court has noted.

The bench observation came while dismissing a revision petition filed by a Lance Havildar accused of killing his wife while on leave, challenging the order of a Magistrate who refused to transfer the case to an Army court.

Justice A Selvam ruled that both the criminal court as well as the Army courts enjoyed concurrent jurisdiction to try criminal offences.

The petitioner was accused of killing his wife on Aug 25 last year during his visit to Usilampatti near here on leave.

As per Section 70 of the Army Act, a person accused of murder, culpable homicide or rape should not be tried through court martial unless the offence had been committed while he was in active service or at any place outside the country or at a frontier post.

The petitioner had submitted that he should be tried only through a court martial because casual leave comes within the purview of "active service".

Though Justice Selvam agreed that a soldier on casual leave could be considered to be in active service, but he added that neither Army act nor the code of criminal procedure prevented a criminal court from conducting trial against servicemen. (ANI)

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