Supreme Court issues notice to Defence Ministry on Sahayak system

The top court on Monday issued a notice to the Ministry of Defence on a plea seeking a ban on the Army's sahayak system. The petitioner was a journalist booked under the Official Secrets Act in connection with the suicide of Lance Naik Roy Mathew, who figures in her sting video related to the buddy system.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Defence Ministry on a plea seeking a ban on sahayak system in the Army whereby lower rank staff is forced to do domestic and menial work for seniors.

The petition was filed by a journalist booked under Official Secrets Act (OSA) by Nashik police in connection with the suicide of Lance Naik Roy Mathew who figures in her sting video related to the controversial sahayak(buddy) system in the Army.

She moved SC against the misuse and abuse of OSA. The journalist, who has challenged the FIR, also sought guidelines from the apex court to prevent abuse of OSA.

'SAHAYAK SYSTEM IS A MALPRACTICE'

"The sahayak or buddy system within the Army is a malpractice and has nothing to do with Official Secrets Act," senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for petitioner and journalist told a bench headed by Justice Chelameswar.

The journalist had shot the sting video in which Mathew talks against the sahayak system in Army. After the release of the video, Mathew allegedly committed suicide. She has also sought a probe into his death. Says the petition filed through advocate Anindita Pujari: "Such FIRs not only impinges upon fundamental rights but also journalistic freedom."

The plea said: "The Army and its personnel, being citizens of India, are under equal constitutional obligation and duty to protect and promote a fair system of administration of justice through an unimpeded investigation and cannot be a party to its undermining and destruction in order to ward off scrutiny of any wrongdoings by its delinquent officers by journalists or responsible citizenry, by seeking to invoke draconian provisions of the OSA and the IPC."

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