Major Vikas Kumar’s dreams of marrying the Bangalore-based 29-year old Sri Lankan student hit a roadblock with the Army ordering an investigation into “the purpose behind him coming in contact with a foreign national”. In response to his plea to quit since service rules bar officers from marrying foreigners, his commanders refused to relieve him, citing a severe staff crunch. The signals corps officer then went to court.
A division bench presided over by Chief Justice Sen Tuesday reserved judgment on an appeal filed by the Union government challenging an order of a single judge bench which had ruled in Maj. Kumar’s favour.
Displeased with the arguments of the government counsel, Justice Sen observed: “This is not a khap panchayat, this is the Army.” He also said, “We can’t understand the Army’s stand at all. This is most unfortunate for the man. One of India’s Presidents, also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, was married to a foreigner.” (A reference to K R Narayanan who was married to Ma Tint Tint of Myanmarese origin).
Maj Kumar won round one of the legal battle this June. A single judge of the high court ruled in his favour saying, “The Army can’t refuse his request for release from the services since he wants to marry a foreign national.” The Union government challenged the order in the division bench.
The government counsel argued, “We have ordered an investigation to find out under what circumstances and for what purpose he has come in contact with a foreign national. Also, his regiment is severely short-staffed, so we cannot relieve him.”
Maj. Kumar’s advocate told the court he filed his second petition after the single judge’s order had been pending with the Army for about four months. “As per the rules, you were expected to decide the application within 120 days either saying Yes or No. Such an inquiry ordered by you is an unknown law,” said Justice Sen.
* Maj. Vikas Kumar joined the Army in 2000 and underwent a BE course sponsored by the Army
* He’s with the Corps of Signals in the northeast India
* On June 29, 2011, Vikas Kumar filed an application seeking release from the services saying he wanted to marry a foreign national unwilling to give up her nationality
* Application rejected it saying ‘it was incomplete’
* Maj Kumar challenged the order in the high court, where a single judge ruled in his favour
* Union government challenged the order in the division bench