Brave soldier needs to be recognised for his commitment to serve the nation with dignity and honour

Delhi High Court:  Discussing the various parameters for grant of a President’s Police Medal/Police Medal to members of the police force for acts of valour and conspicuous devotion to duty,  the Division Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog and Prathiba Rani, JJ.  observed that if a deserving soldier  is denied a gallantry award, it would amount to betrayal by the society. A brave soldier needs to be recognised for his commitment  to serve the nation with dignity and honour.

The petitioner, a CRPF Constable was stationed in Punjab when terrorism happened to be at its peak. During a combing and flushing operation, he sustained life-threatening bullet wounds. He petitioned the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration for the gallantry award which was however rejected.

The Court observed that the respondents have not kept in mind the distinction between performing acts of exceptional courage and exhibiting conspicuous devotion to duty and  had treated as if the entitlement was only if the acts performed evinced an exceptional courage. Even this evaluation is premised only on the contents of the FIR, overlooking the entry made in the case diary as also the recommendations made by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Batala who had joined the operation when the terrorists had not been silenced. In spite of the injuries, the petitioner did not relent, forcing the terrorist to retreat and was eventually shot.

The Court held that it is settled law that all the relevant facts have to be noted and properly weighed while exercising a discretionary power. The discretion  to be exercised in the instant case has civil consequences; a financial benefit which shall ensure to the petitioner for all his life. It is not a medal alone. That apart, society owes a debt of gratitude to the brave. A nation which honours the sacrifice and bravery honours itself. By acknowledging and endorsing acts of bravery, sacrifice and exemplary devotion to duty a nation fosters and encourages similar acts from its citizens and sets high standards of conduct in public affairs. A right created must require its due redemption. The Court directed the competent authority to reconsider the case in accordance with the above observations and relevant facts. [Rajesh Shukla v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 4071, decided on July 26, 2016]

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