KOLKATA : More than three years after Flt Lt Ishan Sharan of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was dismissed from service for an affair with a fellow officer and wife of a senior pilot, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Kolkata, found faults with the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) and directed that his ‘dismissal from service’ be converted into ‘release from service’.

The name of Sqn Ldr Anindita Dasgupta made the headlines after she committed suicide at Air Force Station Jodhpur on the night of November 27, 2012. She was married to Sqn Ldr Vishak Nair. During inquiry, it was revealed that her marriage was on the rocks as she was in an affair with Flt Lt Sharma. After the CoI, Flt Lt Sharma was dismissed for service on June 28, 2013.

“While not condoning extra marital relationships, we must, at the same time, reflect upon the changing mores of our society. With women joining the armed forces in large numbers, working closely and socialising with their male counterparts, it is unreasonable to expect that the armed forces would be immune to social changes in relationships between the two sexes, aided in no small measure by rapidly advancing technology. While such issues adversely impact on unit cohesion and ethos of the Services and should be rightly discouraged, time has come when aspects such as unfortunate break ups of existing marital relationships, consensual relationships with others and infidelity should not be viewed so seriously as to lead to dismissal or even graver punishments that the IPC and statutory Acts of the Army, Navy and Air Force provide for,” the bench of Justice Amar Saran and Lt Gen Gautam Moorthy observed on September 14 this year.

According to the AFT, the dismissal, based on a flawed CoI was harsh as the deceased seemed insistent on continuing with the relationship. The air force authorities seem to have proceeded with a single minded intent to dismiss the officer from service expeditiously without taking into account the circumstances that led to the tragedy, it was observed.

“It would be inexpedient and unwise to ask the air force to take a fresh look at the entire episode in the light of the conclusions we have drawn. However, we cannot allow the stigma of dismissal to continue to remain on record given the special circumstances of the case. Hence, we believe that the ends of justice would be adequately served if the dismissal from service of the applicant is converted into release from service” the bench directed.

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Source: TOI-Kol