The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government and the Indian Army based on a petition alleging the misuse of the military’s “sahayak system”. The development follows the death of Lance Naik Roy Mathew, who had alleged that senior officers had exploited the programme and harassed subordinates.
Journalist Poonam Aggarwal had filed the petition and called for a reconsideration of the system. She had been charged with criminal trespass and abetment to Mathew’s suicide under relevant sections of the Official Secrets Act and the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Express had reported.
Aggarwal had shot the sting video in which Mathew had highlighted the abuse of the system. In her petition, she has alleged that the Official Secrets Act was being misused to hinder the investigation into the “prevalent sahayak system” in the Army and its misuse.
Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had informed MPs that there was no proposal to do away with the sahayak system, according to CNN-News18. He said personnel who wish to express their grievances can use the Army’s redressal programme and even contact the Army chief on WhatsApp as the last resort.
The 33-year-old gunner from Kerala was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room near Deolali Cantonment in Nashik on March 2. He had gone missing from his camp on February 25, a day after he appeared in the video. The clip, which had featured soldiers walking dogs of senior officers and taking their children to school, had sparked a controversy over the British-era practice.