Abhishek Upadhyay for BeyondHeadlines
This time court martial was laid bare like anything. The secret ring woven around it was torn apart. A major from 61, cavalry Jaipur did it. He did what hundreds of victims like him, couldn’t even dream off. It was 5th October 2011 and Major Saurabh Saharan, who is at present under close arrest of the army, was facing summary of evidence in Jaipur, a part of court martial process. He was charged for having relationship with an American woman, contrary to army rules and finally dumping her for petty gains. The officer, Saurabh Saharan was no ordinary officer. To give just a brief about his achievements, he is a renowned Equestrian (Horse back) Rider and Polo Player who has represented the Country in the international level in Show jumping and Polo apart from participating in numerous Polo and Equestrian Events at the national level.
The officer recording Summary of Evidence had arrived. The process began and major Saurabh Saharan started giving answers to the question, posed to him. He gave details about witnesses, presented his point of view and put up spirited defence in favour of his innocence. Summary of evidence process was over. Major Saurabh Saharan’s sixth sense was working well and it proved absolutely correct as he got to see papers related with his summary of evidence. He was surprised to see, whatever he had answered during the process, was inverted at 90 degree. He had given detail about the witnesses but was recorded in paper that he didn’t want to do so. He had put up arguments in his defence but was mentioned in summary of evidence papers that he didn’t have any points and so on.
Major Saharan had smelt the rot well in advance so he went to attend the summary of evidence process, laced with a sting camera. The hidden camera recorded the truth of the process. Major got his share of evidence and submitted it to Armed Force Tribunal (AFT) Jaipur and subsequently AFT Delhi. He also sent one copy to Lt. General SK Singh, then General Officer Commanding in Chief, south western command. Major Saharan has brought out in his application the serious allegations of manipulation and fudging of official records by the officer, recording summary of evidences who has been the Officer-in-Charge of the AFT Legal Cell, Jaipur.
This was the climax of the story which is now, a part of judicial process of armed force tribunal Jaipur as well as Delhi. But the beginning of this story is equally interesting. Major Saurabh Saharan of 61 cavalry, Jaipur was charged by an American woman Nancey chapman, 54 year old, of grabbing 19 lakh rupees from her, by doing false promises. Following her complaint, army ordered court of inquiry against him, which is the first process of court martial. If facts of the complaints are found to be reliable and true then the second step “summary of evidences” takes place where specific evidences are registered. Interestingly major got de facto clean chit in court of inquiry. On 16th august 2011, Lt General SK Singh, the then GOC-in chief south western command, quashed court of inquiry. During this process of court of inquiry, some major contradictions were noticed in the statements of Nancey Chapman.
But surprisingly, on 30th August, 2011, the case against Major Saurabh Saharan was reopened, taking cognizance of an old dated complaint. This was an old complaint filed by same Nancey chapman on 30th may, 2009. The petition of Major filed before AFT explains the goof up ,” Army officers took cognizance of an unsigned complaint purported to have been sent by the complainant which was actually produced in the Court of Inquiry for the first time by the Court of Inquiry itself instead of its production by any witness. The ulterior motive of the Respondents was quite apparent because they dispensed with the Court of Inquiry based on an unsigned typed complaint to conclude prima facie case against the applicant when inspite of a full-fledged Court of Inquiry conducted over a period of almost one year, no case was made out against the Applicant resulting in fudging of Court of Inquiry by the Respondents.”
This step alerted the Major and made him conscious for the future moves. He decided to expose the rot of the process and did the sting operation to prove his point. Major’s case is at present under the judicial scrutiny of Armed forces tribunal Delhi. The Army Headquarter is also well aware of the developments. Major Saurabh Saharan is at present under close arrest while court martial is going on. The outcome of his case is well awaited as it might become a landmark for future such actions.