By Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: The Armed Forces Tribunal has suspended the sentence and granted bail to the Army captain who was awarded life imprisonment by an Army court for killing three men in a staged gunfight in southern Kashmir’s Shopian district in July 2020.

Key observations

The tribunal’s principal bench comprising chairperson Rajendra Menon and member C.P. Mohanty, in its order on November 9, granted bail to the captain, Bhoopendra Singh, who, according to the separate probes carried out by the Army and police, was involved in the murder and abduction of three civilians, including a juvenile, on the intervening night of July 18 and 19, 2020 in Amshipora hamlet of Shopian district.

The court martial proceedings had held him guilty of six charges, including murder, and awarded life imprisonment to him.

The officer had approached the tribunal against the court martial proceedings, saying that they were conducted in an “illegal” and “arbitrary” manner and “manipulations” were carried out to make him a “scapegoat”.

In its observations on the plea for suspension of his sentence, the tribunal raised serious questions on the court martial proceedings, calling its findings as “perverse” and “improper”.

“In our considered view for the purpose of considering the application for suspension of sentence and bail, the prima facie assessment by us is sufficient enough to prima facie come to a conclusion that the finding recorded in the trial is not proper and seems to be a perverse and improper finding,” the tribunal noted.

The tribunal observed that evidence relied upon during the court martial proceedings is not convincing enough to hold the captain guilty of the charges levelled against him. “Prima facie, based on the material available, we are convinced that the likelihood of the captain being acquitted after hearing this appeal cannot be ruled out,” the bench said.

The tribunal bench, however, said that the findings recorded by it are only for the purpose of adjudicating the plea for suspension of sentence and “shall not cause any prejudice to any of the parties at the time of trial.”

This story was originally published in Read the full story here .