CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh bench of military tribunal has dismissed a petition filed by one of the survivors of the Indian Navy frigate INS Khukri seeking probe about its sinking, observing that the issue raised by the petitioner has essence of public interest litigation (PIL) and the tribunal cannot entertain such litigation.
Division bench comprising Justice N P Gupta and Lt Gen H S Panag, however, made it clear that petitioner is free to approach the tribunal pertaining to his personal issues while other issues challenging the gallantry awards to other naval personnel should be raised before an appropriate form.
The petitioner Chanchal Singh Gill had moved a petition before the tribunal in December 2010 seeking inquiry by a judicial commission, withdrawal of gallantry awards from those who allegedly showed cowardice (including officers and commanding officer of INS Kirpan) and fixing responsibility for the Navy’s “huge cover up” after the loss of Khukri that sank during the Indo-Pak war in 1971.
Contesting the petition, naval authorities had challenged the locus standi of the petitioner and asserted that the petition is not maintainable before the military tribunal.
Navy had also taken the stand that petitioner is unnecessary raising a 40 years old issue that has no relevance at present.
In his plea before the tribunal, Gill had contended that he the naval history pertaining to the sinking of the Khukri is absolutely beyond the truth and INS Kirpan had actually maneuvered to flee and did not deflect the torpedo attack. Gill also said that he could muster courage to raise the issue only after the Delhi-based military tribunal orders passed in May last year directing the Army authorities to correct the history pertaining to Kargil war. Over 18 officers and 176 sailors including the captain of ship, M N Mulla were lost in the sinking of Khukri on December 9, 1971.