What is the Basic Difference Between American and Indian Military Law in Terms of Courts Martial
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What is the Basic Difference Between American and Indian Military Law in Terms of Courts Martial

Both American military law and Indian military law have been derived from the Articles of War as enunciated by the British. The US Military discipline has 3 types of Courts Martial, while the Indian Military has 4 types of Court Martial. The difference lies in the Summary Court Martial which under Indian law is different from US Law.


The present American Military system of Justice in the form of the Uniform Code of military justice 1951 is based on the Articles of War 1806. These Articles of War are in turn based on the Articles of War 1775, which in turn were a copy of the British Articles of War 1774.

Indian Military law also follows a similar line. The British who were the rulers of India  enacted the Articles of War 1869 and later amended them with the Articles of war 1895. These Articles of War were discarded and the Indian Army act of 1912 came into effect. Independent India made further modifications and this resulted in the Indian Army Act 1950.

Thus both system of justice as far as Military discipline is concerned are inspired by the British enacted Articles of War. But here the similarity ends as in India the British came as rulers and as such as a ruling class incorporated their ideas on Military discipline. In the USA they lost the War of Independence and thus their influence as far as Military law is concerned was negligible after 1776.


One of the major differences in the American and Indian military justice system is that under US law there are 3 types of Court Martial, while under Indian law there are 4 types of Court Martial.  The difference lies in the Summary Court Martial (SCM). The American Military also has a Summary Court martial, but its connotation is entirely different from an Indian Summary Court Martial.

An Indian Summary Court Martial as per the Army act can be convened by a single officer who may be the commanding officer. There is no appeal against a judgment of a SCM under Indian Military law except in the case of an officer with less those 6 years of service, where the sentence will have to be confirmed by a brigadier or brigade commander.


 Under Indian Military law a Summary court martial  can be convened by any Commanding officer and can award any punishment under the act subject to a prison term of one year or lesser punishment as specified in the act. At a SCM the accused is not allowed a defending council or lawyer and the CO will hear the case and the accused can give his explanation.

There is no such provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the US army. The Summary Court Martial mentioned in the Uniform Code of Military Justice  is only a summary disposal of charges like in the Indian Army act, 1950.  The punishments that can be awarded are minor punishments like 30 days detention and fine, where as a SCM under Indian Military law can award imprisonment up to one year.


All decisions of a Court Martial in the USA are the subject of a review by the US Military Court of Appeal.  In India there was no such provision, though after 2009 the CAT (Central Armed Forces tribunal) can review all decisions by a CM. In the USA an aggrieved service man can apply for a pardon to the US president. There is no such provision under the Army Act 1950 in India.

These are the major differences between American and Indian Military law as far as Courts Martial is concerned.. 

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