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SC Issues Notice to Army, Centre on Plea to Review Sahayak System

In March, the body of a jawan, Roy Mathew, was found hanging at Deolali cantonment in Maharashtra after a sting video, which showed him complaining about being made to do household chores of superior officers, went viral.

In March, the body of a jawan, Roy Mathew, was found hanging at Deolali cantonment in Maharashtra after a sting video, which showed him complaining about being made to do household chores of superior officers, went viral.

Sahayaks are attached to Army officers when serving with units or headquarters functioning on war establishment.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Indian Army and the Centre on a plea seeking a review of the Sahayak system and its alleged misuse.

The plea, filed by journalist Poonam Agarwal, comes weeks after Lance Naik Roy Mathew, a jawan who was seen criticising the system in a sting operation video, was found dead in a barrack in a Maharashtra cantonment.

His death had triggered calls for introspection and for the orderly system, considered a colonial relic, to be abolished.

Sahayaks are attached to Army officers when serving with units or headquarters functioning on war establishment. A parliamentary panel had earlier deemed the system as "demeaning and humiliating", saying it “lowers the self-esteem of a jawan.”

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, however, told Parliament during the recently concluded Budget Session that there was no proposal to do away with the Sahayak system.

In a written reply to Lok Sabha, he had said that grievances brought to the notice of military authorities were properly redressed, and added that there was a new system in place in which the grievance could be aired directly to the Army Chief through WhatsApp, after a soldier has exhausted all other options.

In the sting video, Mathew had reportedly said that higher officials allegedly mistreated their 'Sahayaks', and forced them to do petty jobs like polishing shoes, washing clothes and taking their pet dogs for walks.
Two more soldiers — Sepoy Sindhav Jogidas Lakhubhai of the Army Medical Corps and Lance Naik Yagya Pratap — also took to social media to attack the Sahayak system, but the army said both of them were never assigned any Sahayak roles.
first published:April 24, 2017, 13:49 IST