What is Court Martial ? | Indian Army Court Martial | What is a Military Court Martial ?

Indian Army Court Martial : You all must have seen Shaurya Movie. And you will also definitely remember the epic scene of Court Martial from that movie. You might have seen Court Martial scenes in many other movies, but would Court Martial actually be like this? What is Court Martial? In this blog , we will know all Information about Military Court Martial in India.

What is Court Martial ?

You all must have heard a little about Court Martial, have also seen it in Bollywood movies, but the way Court Martial is shown in Bollywood movies is not completely correct.

When we talk about Indian Army, the first word that comes to our mind is Discipline. Discipline is the rule that leads the army towards success and it is needed everywhere whether it is Training Ground, Field Areas or a desk job in an office. Maintaining discipline is the biggest duty of every soldier, but what happens when a soldier breaks discipline? There is no place for indiscipline in the Indian Army and the soldier or officer is punished according to the kind of crime he has committed or violation of discipline. It is not the case that there should be Court Martial in every small mistake, rather in such cases, punishment is given to the personnel on the spot.
In cases like any big mistake or betrayal of the country, Court Martial is certain.

Military Court Martial Procedure

Actually, Court Martial is not a punishment but a procedure through which an accused is sentenced. When a case is tried in a military court, it is called Court Martial. In India, the legal provisions related to Court Martial are mainly made by three laws and those three laws are – The Army Act 1950, The Airforce Act 1957 & The Navy Act 1950. The same process as Court Martial is followed with War Prisoners also.

Must Read – Structure Of Indian Army , Formation And Structure Of Indian Army | Indian Army Command Headquarters

Types of Court Martial in Indian Armed Forces

Let us now know how many types of Court Martial are there in the Indian Armed Forces –

  • 1. General Court Martial (GCM)
  • 2. District Court Martial (DCM)
  • 3. Summary General Court Martial (SGCM)
  • 4. Summary Court Martial (SCM)

1. General Court Marshal (GCM) – It consists of at least 5 officers with more than three years of experience and 4 out of these 5 should be of the rank of Captain or above. In GCM, all ranks of personnel i.e. both soldiers and officers are punished and death or life imprisonment can also be given.

2. District Court Martial (DCM) – Its panel consists of at least 3 officers with more than 2 years of experience and in this, JCO & other ranks are punished.

3. Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) – In SGCM, punishment is given for crimes committed in areas like Jammu & Kashmir.

4. Summary Court Martial (SCM) – SCM is different from all these. During war or emergency, there is no time for General Court Martial and hence only the Commanding Officer takes action and gives punishment.

According to the Indian Army Act, the Army Court gives punishment in all cases except Murder and Rape, while the Civil Court gives punishment in the cases of Murder and Rape.

Military Court Martial Procedure

When the Army wants to investigate any allegation against an accused, it first constitutes a COI i.e. Court of Inquiry for this. This step is similar to registering an FIR by the police. The Court of Inquiry investigates the complaint but cannot punish the accused. COI records the statements of witnesses, which is equivalent to examination of witnesses by a police officer under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC).

Based on the findings of the COI, a tentative charge sheet is prepared by the commanding officer of the accused personnel. After this, the charges are heard (just like in civil cases, the magistrate issues an initial summons to the accused). Then the summary of evidence is recorded. Once this process is complete, an order is given to constitute a General Court Martial (GCM); Just like civil cases are filed by the judicial court.

The case is always heard by senior rank officers of the Accused in which the most senior officer is the head of that panel. Like the civil court, the accused can take the help of any military lawyer and after completion of the investigation, the court sends its report to the senior rank officer in which the punishment awarded to the accused is mentioned.

Punishment given in Military Court Martial

After Court Martial, many types of punishments can be given to the accused, such as – Imprisonment, Salary Deduction, Demotion, Reduction in Seniority or death sentence. Court martial of any accused affects his service record which reduces his chances of promotion in future.

The decision of the Court Martial can be challenged, the accused can go to the senior of the officer who has pronounced the sentence and if things do not work out there then he can go to the Armed Forces Tribunal after which the High Court or the Supreme Court. Number comes. Under Article 72, the President can either reduce or pardon the punishment of the accused by using his judicial powers.

Frequently Asked Questions :-

1. What is a military court martial?

A military court martial is a legal proceeding used by the military to address serious violations of military law committed by service members. It is similar to a civilian criminal trial but is specific to the military justice system.

2. What offenses can lead to a military court martial?

A military court martial can be convened for a wide range of offenses, including serious crimes such as desertion, insubordination, espionage, sexual assault, theft, and violation of military orders. The severity of the offense often determines the level of court martial (summary, special, or general) convened to hear the case.

3. Who can convene a military court martial?

A commanding officer, typically at the rank of a major or higher, has the authority to convene a military court martial. The convening authority decides whether the case should proceed to trial and which level of court martial is appropriate for the charges.

4. Are military court martials open to the public?

Military court martials are generally not open to the public. They are closed proceedings, with access restricted to military personnel, the accused, legal counsel, and necessary witnesses. However, some parts of the trial, such as the verdict and sentencing, may be made public if the accused is convicted.

5. What are the potential outcomes of a military court martial?

The outcomes of a military court martial can vary, but they often include acquittal, conviction with penalties such as imprisonment, fines, demotion, or a dishonorable discharge. The specific outcome depends on the charges, the evidence presented, and the decision of the court martial panel (comprised of military officers). The accused has the right to appeal the decision if found guilty.

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