New Delhi, Jul 26: Denying gallantry awards to deserving soldiers is akin to betrayal by the society which owes a debt of gratitude towards them, the Delhi High Court today said while setting aside the Centre's order not to give a medal to a CRPF personnel who sustained bullet injuries in an encounter with a dreaded Khalistani terrorist.
Noting that "a nation which honours the sacrifice and bravery honours itself", a bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Pratibha Rani said a brave soldier needs to be recognised for his commitment to serve the country with dignity.
"A brave soldier needs to be recognised for his commitment to serve the nation with dignity and honour. It would indeed be a betrayal by the society if a soldier deserving a gallantry is denied the same.
A right created must require its due redemption," it said, adding, "It is not a medal alone. That apart, society owes a debt of gratitude to the brave."
The court, while quashing the July 15, 2014 order of the Centre denying award to petitioner Rajesh Shukla, referred to his claim for a gallantry award to the competent authority asking it to take into account recommendation by the then Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), who was a part of the encounter team, as well as the case diary of the 1992 events.
Referring to the SSP's recommendation, the bench noted that Shukla had engaged the terrorist in the encounter despite receiving four bullet injuries and forced then Deputy Chief of Khalistan Commando Force (Zaffarwal), Khajan Singh, to retreat into a house where he was cornered and killed by the forces.
It observed that as per the case diary, if the petitioner had not engaged the terrorist, he would have escaped and "undaunted" by the injuries Shukla continued to bravely fight.
"Such commitment by an armed officer who displays unwavering readiness in the hour of the need and who remains undeterred by the fear of losing his life while defending the nation against enemies is truly representative of a conspicuous devotion to duty," the bench said.
The encounter had taken place when the police team had gone to a village in Punjab to search for terrorists on the basis of a tip off, when they came under heavy fire. Two terrorists were killed during the encounter and AK-47 rifles and stock bomb was recovered from them.