The Armed Forces Tribunal of India, Principal Bench, has set aside a 1987 [!] court-martial. The April 1, 2010 decision in Chillar v. Union of India can be found here. The court concluded with the following observations:
Before parting with the case, we would like to observe that in conduct of Court Martial proceedings some elementary mistakes are committed. Neither the Judge Advocate, who advises the Court Martial proceedings, has, at any time, experience of conducting sessions trial, as a result of which he could not properly advise the Court Martial authorities nor the prosecutors are properly trained to conduct such criminal trials. As per Section 152 of the Army Act, 1950 Court Martial under the provisions of the Army Act shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code and the Court Martial shall be deemed to be court within the meaning of Sections 345 and 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. For such matters, a properly trained prosecutor is required. This is highlighted in this case that such elementary mistakes were committed in conduct of the criminal prosecution. Therefore, the authorities, should appoint proper prosecutors for conducting such criminal cases in Court Martial proceedings, likewise, a trained Presiding Officer, who knows how to conduct the criminal trial or a Judge Advocate who had an experience of conducting the criminal trials.
We have seen number of Court Martial cases, which have come before this Tribunal and we find that most of the elementary mistakes were committed in conduct of the criminal trials under Court Martial proceedings. Now a proper appeal lies against the court martial proceedings before this Tribunal, the Tribunal has to examine all the procedure as well as substance of the criminal trial like in Court of Appeal, including appreciation of the evidence, and our experience is that the trials in the Court Martial proceedings relating to civil offence[s] like murder or other penal code offences or offences under the other acts are not properly conducted like a regular criminal trial. The result is that they will turn into acquittal. Therefore, now in changed situation, when the Court Martial proceedings are amenable to regular appeal under the Act, the authorities have to undertake the overall review of conducting Court Martial trials pertaining to offences under penal code or other civil offences by a competent prosecutor, who has experience of trial as well as the Presiding Officer should also be a trained person, who has seen the trials conducted by Sessions Court, so that they can appreciate the difference between the two and regulate the Court Martial proceedings as if they are conducting a criminal trial before sessions. Such Presiding Officers should be sent for training in a criminal court, where trials are conducted, likewise, the Prosecutors and the Judge Advocate. Therefore, the matter requires a serious consideration of overhauling of the procedure.
Another important feature, which we would like to highlight that before presenting the matter for Court Martial three tier proceedings are taken, first, a preliminary enquiry, then, at the charge stage, and, thirdly summary of evidence, ultimately the matter goes to Court Martial. Therefore, this is a four tier exercise, which is also cumbersome, time consuming and totally unwarranted. Once the investigation is done, then, the case should be immediately taken before the Court and Court find prima facie charges, then, either Court may send it to session court for trial or if authorities want to try by Court Martial, then, it can apply before the Court. The preliminary enquiry at three stages, i.e. Court of Inquiry, framing of charge and summary of evidence is a useless exercise and it creates more confusion and lot of time consuming also. Therefore, this exercise should be shorten[ed] like a criminal trial, so that the proceedings of [the] Court Martial can be expedited.