CHENNAI: A sepoy from Thoothukudi, dismissed from the Army after having served over 16 years for overstaying of leave by 95 days, was permitted to avail pension and other retirement benefits by the Armed Forces Tribunal.
The Chennai bench of the tribunal, in its recent order on a petition from the sepoy, A Sudalai Muthu, observed that the punishment of dismissal from service for overstaying of leave was disproportionate to the offence considering his otherwise unblemished 16-year career in the armed forces.
Though Muthu could not join back the Defence Security Corps again, the tribunal commuted his punishment from “dismissal” to “discharge” making him eligible for pension, gratuity and other entitlements.
However, the tribunal did not exactly buy Muthu’s theories that he was “kidnapped by terrorists” and was subsequently “mentally disturbed” due to which he could not report to duty on expiry of his leave on February 19, 2006. Muthu, of Burma Colony in Thoothukudi, had served as a sepoy in the army from 1985 to 1994. After a gap of nearly four years, he again voluntarily joined Defence Security Corps in 1998 and was serving at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. He was granted a leave from January 2 to February 19 in 2006 to visit his home town. However, he reported at the Movement Control Office at Agra only on May 25 alleging that he had just now “managed to escape from the terrorists” and complained that he was “mentally disturbed” and wanted psychiatric treatment. He was treated at the military hospitals in Jhansi and Lucknow where the doctors gave the opinion that Muthu was merely feigning. A summary court martial proceeding found him guilty of overstaying leave and he was dismissed from service on December 18, 2006.