severability of offences i.e juvenile offences from adult of


Severability of offences i.e juvenile offences from adult offences

 Rule 51 of the Army Rules requires that the accused must raise the objection in respect of jurisdiction at an early stage of the commencement of proceedings. Had the respondent raised the issue of juvenility at the appropriate stage, the authority conducting the GCM could have dropped the charges in respect of offences committed by him as a juvenile. Further, Rule 72 provides for mitigation of sentence in case of invalidity in framing of charges or on finding thereon. The respondent pleaded guilty to all the offences, though at a belated stage. As a member of the Indian Army, the respondent was duty bound to protect the nation. Regrettably, however, his conduct reminds one of situations when the “legislator becomes the transgressor” and the “fence eats the crops”. Put simply, he abused the nation instead of protecting it. Therefore, his conduct had been unpardonable and not worthy of being a soldier.1
 Undoubtedly, each charge had been in respect of a separate and distinct offence. Each charge could have been tried separately. Thus, the trial by way of a GCM remained partly valid. The offences committed by the respondent after attaining the age of 18 years, were not a part of the same transaction i.e. related to the offences committed by him as a juvenile. Nor were the same were so intricately intertwined that the same could not be separated from one another. Thus, invalidity of part of the order could not render the GCM proceedings invalid in entirety. Therefore, the valid part of the proceedings is required to be saved by applying the principle of severability of offences.

Supreme Court of India
Union Of India & Ors. vs Ajit Singh on 2 April, 2013





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