The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, restored the sentence of cashiering from service imposed on an Army Officer who while working as Medical Specialist had allegedly misbehaved with women.
Terming his conduct 'reprehensible', the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat observed that Lt.Col SS Bedi had abused a position of trust being a Doctor and this act is not condonable.
Proceedings were initiated against the colonel after two women complained that he misbehaved with them during checkup by inappropriately touching their private parts. The General Court Martial found him guilty of using criminal force on these women with intent to outrage their modesty, contrary to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code and was sentenced to be cashiered from service on 14.01.1987.
The Armed Forces Tribunal, partly allowed his appeal, by converting the punishment of cashiering to a fine of Rs.50,000/-. It had upheld the conviction. Both the Union of India and the Colonel filed appeals against this order of the Tribunal before the Supreme Court.
Before the Apex court, it was contended on behalf of the Colonel that the physical examination of both the complainants was necessary for the ailments that were being suffered by them. However, the court noted that another Army Doctor had testified that touching of private parts and squeezing of nipples of such patients was totally unnecessary.
Disagreeing with the Tribunal which had found that the punishment of cashiering was 'shockingly disproportionate', the bench said:
"We restore the punishment of penalty of cashiering by taking into account the reprehensible conduct of the Appellant abusing a position of trust being a Doctor which is not condonable."
The bench, however, directed the authorities to consider his entire record of service and his advanced age while taking a decision to initiate proceedings under the Army Pension Regulations.
Case no.: Criminal Appeal No. 13 of 2013 Case name: UNION OF INDIA vs. LT. COL. S. S. BEDI Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra BhatCounsel: Advocate Sridhar Potaraju for the Appellant
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