New Delhi: The Supreme Court has approved the dismissal of an Army jawan for abandoning his post to escape and for failing to fire at terrorists during an encounter in J&K way back in 2006.

Hearing the plea of the dismissed jawan, Dalbir Singh, the apex court said, “There is no room for cowards in the Army.”  In his plea, Singh, who was posted with Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, said his track record was good so the court must be sympathetic towards him.

According to DNA, the Army had court-martialled him for two offences: for showing cowardice in the face of aggression and failing to fire his AK-47 and service pistol. The Army said it could not allow for such cowardice.

A bench comprising Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna dismissed Singh’s petition and said, “In the matter of protecting the border, a soldier cannot live merely on past glory but should rise to the occasion every time to defend the integrity of the nation since such is the trust reposed in a soldier.”

Since his enrolment in April 1999, Singh’s service record was impeccable. That was till the 2006 encounter. On August 12, 2006, the Army had formed a cordon to trap insurgents. When the post Singh was guarding came under fire, instead of retaliating, he tried to jump over a stone wall to escape. A terrorist’s bullet pierced his leg and took him down.

Terrorists killed another jawan posted with Singh, took his Light Machine Gun and broke through the Army cordon.

Court-martial found Singh guilty of cowardice and he was dismissed from service on March 6, 2008. He was also sentenced to six months of imprisonment which the Bench set aside.

It said, “The resources of the country are spent on training a soldier to retaliate and fight when the integrity of the nation is threatened and there is aggression…In such a grave situation, if a soldier turns his back to the challenge, it will certainly amount to cowardice.”