Law: Arrest of Personnel subject to Military law

The Air Force Act 1950 and corresponding Military and Naval law clearly define the power of arrest and custody of persons subject to the act. Basically any person subject to the act may be taken into custody for any offence committed under the Air Force act 1950. However there is an overriding provision on arrest and custody which specifies that the power of arrest does not include the power to release from arrest. This flows from section 102 and 103 of the AF act 1950.

Section 102 of the Air Force specifies that
a) Any person subject to the Air Force act 1950 can be arrested on the orders of a superior Air Force authority.
b) An officer can be arrested only on the orders of a superior officer.
There is one limitation specified by section 102(3) which states that an officer junior in rank may order a superior officer into custody in case he is engaged in a quarrel, affray or disorder.

A person arrested under the act as per Section 103 is to be brought before his commanding officer to hear the charge against him within 48 hours. This period does not include Sundays and other gazette holidays as declared by the Government of India.

The Commanding Officer is to hear the charge within 48 hours and dispose of the arrest by any of the following
a) Hear the charge under section 82 and dispose of the charge summarily
b) Dismiss the charge and release him from custody
c) Order a Court of Inquiry and Summary of evidence.

In case for any reason a person subject to the act is not brought to trial within 48 hours the Commanding Officer is to furnish a delay report as specified in Section 103(2). This delay report is to be submitted to Command headquarters or other superior air Force authority. Subsequently a delay report is to be submitted every 8 days. The delay report is to be regularly submitted till the arrested person is brought to trial or case disposed of summarily.

The Air Force act also lays down that the powers of arrest may be exercised by the Provost Marshal and his staff at all times. The provost marshal draws his powers from section 108 of the Air Force act 1950 and includes his deputies and assistants to help him. A provost marshal may take into custody any person subject to the act, except an officer who can be placed in Air Force custody only on orders of a superior officer.


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