‘The question arises is as to whether the benefits of the liberal spirits of the Constitution would be totally deprived to a class of citizens, namely, those who are engaged in defending the country against external aggression and those who serve the country in peace as much as in war.’
Quashing the order of punishment of imprisonment as well as dismissal from service imposed on Coastguard personnel, the Gujarat High Court has observed that Army personnel like others are entitled to preservation of their reputation as also his livelihood and protection from oppression.
Justice JB Pardiwala, partly allowing the plea of a Coast Guard personnel quashing the orders against him for non compliance of principles of natural justice, directed the Director General, Indian Coast Guard, to take a fresh decision with proper application of mind and reasons, whether he should be tried summarily as or it would be in the interest of justice to constitute a Coast Guard Court and conduct the trial.
In this context, the court observed: “The question arises is as to whether the benefits of the liberal spirits of the Constitution would be totally deprived to a class of citizens, namely, those who are engaged in defending the country against external aggression and those who serve the country in peace as much as in war. A person may not have a Fundamental Right, yet he is entitled to the benefits of the Charter of Human Rights. Despite denial of some of the provisions contained in Part III of the Constitution, he is entitled to compliance of the principles of natural justice.”
Justice Pardiwala further said: “The citizens as also the aliens are entitled to a trial governed by rule of law in a Court of Law presided over by experienced Judge having a hierarchy therefore. Furthermore, a person's Right to Life and Liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be allowed to be torpedoed in a casual manner. The Army personnel like others having regard to the expanded definition of Article 21 of the Constitution of India are entitled to preservation of his reputation as also his livelihood and protection from oppression. B.S.F. Officer may not have the right of protection granted to the Civil Servants under the Constitution of India, but are entitled to compliance of the procedures laid down under the said Act and Rules framed there under. History of procedure is the history of liberty. Thus, denial to the officer from the established procedure, particularly those, which are mandatory in nature, would vitiate a proceeding. Even, the directory provisions are required to be substantially complied with.”
A person in 'khakhi' indisputably is entitled to the protection of human rights
The court also observed that even if the protection as envisaged in Part III of the Constitution of India are not fully available, the fair procedure doctrine must be read into the provisions of the said Act and the Rules. “I must notice that the procedures contemplated under the said Act are not judicial proceedings; they are more akin to the administrative proceedings. The principles of natural justice have three basic pillars; assigning of reason(s) is one of them. It is a trite law that whenever civil or evil consequences are ensued by reason of an administrative order, the principles of natural justice are required to be complied with.”