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Court martial hearing against Anjalli today

Staff Reporter

Defending officer seeks one day to study charges

BANGALORE: Amidst reading of charges, the court martial proceedings against the woman officer, Flying Officer Anjalli Gupta, was adjourned to Friday allowing her defending officer to object to the charges.

As soon as the Presiding Officer, Group Captain V. Ganesh, began to read the first of the seven charges against Ms. Gupta in a procedure called "arrangement", the defending officer, Wing Commander Vijay Bhupesh, submitted an oral plea that he wanted time to study the charges and prepare the defence.

The first charge against Ms. Gupta was that she made a false claim and withdrew Rs. 1,080 from an Indian Air Force office for an official journey of five days. Soon after this charge was read over, Wg. Cdr. Bhupesh, said he wanted "time to study the summary evidence related to the seven charges and argue on the charges levelled against Ms. Gupta." This plea was made despite the six-member jury stating that such an opportunity will be given after finishing the "arrangement" process.

On Thursday, the court martial proceedings in the Aircraft System and Training Establishment (ASTE) premises began with the Prosecutor, Wg. Cdr. R.K. Dubey, replying to the application of Ms. Gupta, where she had raised two main technical flaws. One was that Ms. Gupta was served three summary evidences, and the other was that the order convening the general court martial was passed before the order approving the charge-sheet.

The jury, after the Prosecutor's reply, verified from the documents with the Prosecutor and the Defending officer, and found "no difference" in the summary evidence and the charge-sheet held by the two officers. "The accused has been served with only one and not three summary evidences," Judge Advocate, Sqn. Ldr. Suhag.For verifying about the second technical flaw, the Jury summoned Gp. Capt. A.K. Saigal to bring documents related to Ms. Gupta. After inspection, the jury passed an order that no procedural flaw had been committed and observed that the sequence of events had been followed. Gp. Capt. Ganesh said that the convening authority, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, passed order convening the court martial on April 5. This order was accompanied with the charge-sheet containing seven charges. Initially, he said, the convening authority was suggested to frame 15 charges against Ms. Gupta.

Custody

Meanwhile, Wg. Cdr. V.M. Raghunath, Defence spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that Ms. Gupta was being kept in Air Force custody to prevent her from causing harm to herself. This action, he said, was taken as she intimated the Karnataka State Commission of Women on April 8 that "she is on the verge of taking her life citing perceived harassment." He said Ms. Gupta was staying in the Air Force Officers' Mess and there is an embargo on her movement.

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