Won't Get Into Soldiers' Fight for Credit of Kargil War Victory, Says Supreme Court
The Supreme Court said reports of the defence forces, which contain role of officers at the time of engagement, are not justiciable and it is not for the court to order any kind of correction or declaration in these documents.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has distanced itself from what it appeared to it as a fight among the soldiers to take credit for India’s victory in the Kargil War.
The top court has held that reports of the defence forces, which contain role of officers at the time of engagement, are not justiciable and that it is not for the court to order any kind of correction or declaration in these documents.
Officers and experts are the ones, the SC said, who should decide on the after-action and other such reports.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao maintained: “The tribunal or the court is not the authority to appreciate the historical facts as it is for the experts and officers in the armed forces to record such facts in terms of the procedure established by them. This court neither has the expertise nor has the jurisdiction to sit over the reports furnished by the officers in respect of credit to the officers involved in the Operation Vijay.”
The central government had come to the Supreme Court in appeal against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, which had directed the army in 2010 that facts should be “correctly” entered in the reports related to the Kargil War and Operation Vijay.
This order was issued by the tribunal on a petition by Brigadier Devinder Singh, who served in the Kashmir valley in the counter insurgency duties in 1999, and claimed that he forecasted the pattern of Kargil intrusion but the same was summarily dismissed by his seniors.
His plea in the AFT stated that he should be given due credit and Battle Performance Report, After-Action Report, Report of Army Headquarters, Military Operations Directorate and reports submitted by the High-Power Committee of the Government of India regarding Kargil War should be correctly recorded, recognising his performance in Operation Vijay.
Challenging the tribunal’s order, the central government submitted in the apex court that AFT had no jurisdiction to order for modification of these reports since not only these reports were not in the public domain but also as facts could be known only to the officers.
“We find the issue raised is more to take credit by the officers engaged in Operation Vijay. The reports do not have any civil consequences, therefore, are not subject to judicial review by the tribunal or the courts,” said the bench.
It noted that the After-Action Report and other such reports are collected and maintained for the purposes of future strategic studies and have no adverse consequences in respect of any officer as no adverse action is taken on the basis of such reports.
“In fact, the respondent (Singh) has been conferred Vishisht Seva Medal as the Commander of an Infantry Brigade in the Northern Command who was given the responsibility for the conduct of all operations in Batalik-Yaldor Sector during Operation Vijay,” emphasised the bench, adding that courts would not go into the historical facts since these cannot become the issues of judicial review.
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