When ex-havildar R Nasik Raja from a village in Tamil Nadu joined the Army in 1994, he dreamt of carrying on the legacy of his father who was also an ex-serviceman. Little did he realise that his haircut from a civilian hair salon on a fateful day six years ago would turn his life upside down.
Raja, of the 80 Field Regiment, Jammu, was terminated from service in August 2006, based on fabricated evidence and manipulated summary court martial. Finally, in a historic judgment on Thursday, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Kolkata Bench, ordered that he be reinstated.
Raja’s ordeal started on August 5, 2006, when during the Sainik Sammelan of the unit he was admonished by Lt Col S K Jaini, second in command of his regiment, for not having a proper haircut. Raja told him that he had a haircut, but in civil area. Raja was humiliated by his superior officers and his immediate superior of Major rank was asked to take action against him.
The same day he was again called by Lt Col Jaini and confronted with the issue of his haircut. He replied to him stating, “Why are you after me?” Since that moment, as per the AFT judgment, the incidents and subsequent action violated the principle of natural justice and shamed the Army.
Raja was set up by his superiors for threatening Lt Col Jaini with a loaded rifle. Surprisingly, instead of arresting him, the regiment sent him to the Military hospital for psychiatric check up. Doctors declared him medically fit and discharged him on August 21, 2006.