Award of Field Punishment in the Indian Air Force
Field punishment is one of the punishments specified in the Air force Act 1950. It was earlier a part of the Air Force act 1932. This punishment has its origin from the British colonial army and was a tool to enforce discipline. Records indicate that it was introduced in 1881. The punishment assumed importance after flogging was abolished in the same year. The British did away with field punishment in 1923, but the Indian Air Force has retained it.
Section 77 and 78 of the Air Force act 1950 refer to field punishment. The Air Force act 1950 however puts severe limitations on the award of field punishment.
a) It can be awarded only on active service or when a state of emergency is declared.
b) It can only be awarded to enlisted men below the rank of warrant officer
c) The field punishment can comprise of hard labor, but no flogging will be permitted.
d) The punishment can only be awarded by a court martial or an officer exercising authority under section 82(Summary Disposal of Charges).
e) A court martial can award field punishment up to 3 months while under section 82 it can be awarded for a maximum of 28 days.
In the scale of punishments, the award of field punishment will stand below the award of dismissal.
The Regulations for the Air Force 1969(Section 152) clearly specify the method of field punishment. There are two types of field punishments.
Field Punishment No 1. This involves tying the offender to a fixed object like a wooden beam with chains or ropes for a period up to 2 hours every day in the parade ground. The purpose behind this punishment is to set an example to other airmen. The punishment is to be so conducted that the accused does not suffer any body or physical harm. The CO will also insure that the accused is not tied to the stake for a continuous period of 4 days and 21 day in all.
Field Punishment No 2. This is a variation of field punishment No 1 and the only difference is that it does not involve being tied to a wooden beam with chains or ropes.
The regulations for the Air Force state that field punishment will be equivalent to rigorous imprisonment and the accused may be subjected to hard labor. The punishment is carried out within the confines of the unit and a medical officer will examine the accused every day and pronounce him fit to undergo field punishment.