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Singapore Armed Forces Act
Singapore Armed Forces (Board of Inquiry) Regulations
Rg 1
G.N. No. S 152/1972
REVISED EDITION 2001
(31st January 2001)
[15th June 1972]
Definitions
2.  In these Regulations, unless the context otherwise requires —
“board” means a board of inquiry;
“chairman” means the chairman of a board;
“civil authority” includes a coroner and the civil police;
“civilian witness” means a person who gives evidence before a board and is —
(a)
a person to whom section 3 (c) and (d) of the Act applies; or
(b)
a person who is not subject to military law or the service law (which has the same meaning as in Part I of the Visiting Forces Act (Cap. 344)) of a visiting force, that is to say, any such body, contingent or detachment of the forces of any country as if for the time being a visiting force for the purpose of any of the provisions of that Act;
“convening body”, in relation to a board of inquiry, means the Armed Forces Council or any person or body of persons appointed under the Act or prescribed by these Regulations to convene the board;
“formation” means a brigade or its equivalent in the maritime and air commands or any equivalent body of servicemen;
“NUSAF officer” means a non-uniformed serviceman holding a service grade which is prescribed in the Singapore Armed Forces (NUSAF Service Grades) Regulations (Rg 16) as an officer grade;
“record of proceedings”, in relation to a board, includes the report of the board and any opinion expressed by the board in accordance with any direction given by the convening body;
“represented” means represented by an officer of the Singapore Armed Forces or by counsel (which means a person qualified within the meaning of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)), and “representative” shall be construed accordingly.
Duties of board
3.  It shall be the duty of a board to investigate and report on the facts relating to any matter referred to the board under these Regulations and, if directed so to do, to express its opinion on any question arising out of any such matter.
Convening body
4.
—(1)  The convening body for a board set up for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on the facts relating to any matter mentioned in regulation 5(1) shall be —
(a)
the Armed Forces Council;
(b)
an officer commanding a command or formation or a person who is for the time being performing the functions of such officer;
(c)
an officer commanding a unit or detachment of the Singapore Armed Forces —
(i)
where the matter to be inquired into is specified in regulation 5(1)(a); or
(ii)
where the matter to be inquired into is specified in regulation 5(1)(b), (c) or (d) and the officer is specifically authorised by the Armed Forces Council or an officer mentioned in sub-paragraph (b) to inquire into that particular matter; or
(d)
any other convening body appointed under Part IX of the Act.
(2)  The convening body for a board set up for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on the facts relating to a matter mentioned in regulation 5(2) shall be an officer commanding a unit or detachment of the Singapore Armed Forces or, where necessary, a convening body referred to in paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (d).
(3)  The following provisions shall be specified in the order convening a board:
(a)
the order shall specify the composition of the board and the place and time at which the board shall assemble;
(b)
where the matter referred to the board is that mentioned in regulation 5(1)(a) the order shall, and in the case of a board convened to inquire into any of the other matters set out in regulation 5(1) or into any of the matters set out in regulation 5(2), the order may specify the terms of reference of the board and be published in military orders;
(c)
the order may direct the board to express its opinion on any question arising out of any matter referred to the board;
(d)
the convening body may at any time revoke, vary or suspend the order; and
(e)
the order shall be in Form 1 set out in the First Schedule.
Matters for reference to board
5.
—(1)  Subject to these Regulations, a board convened by any of the convening bodies set out in regulation 4(1) shall be competent to inquire into —
(a)
the absence of any person subject to military law who has been continuously absent without leave for a period of not less than 21 days and the deficiency (if any) in the clothing, arms, ammunition or other equipment or any other public or service property issued to him for his use;
(b)
the capture of any person subject to military law by the enemy and his conduct in captivity, if, on his return from captivity, the convening body considers that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that he was made a prisoner of war through disobedience to orders or wilful neglect of his duty, or that having been made a prisoner of war he failed to take all reasonable steps available to him to rejoin the Singapore Armed Forces, or that having been made a prisoner of war he served with or aided the enemy in the prosecution of hostilities or measures calculated to influence morale or in any other manner whatsoever not authorised by international usage;
(c)
the death of any person in a military establishment, being an establishment in any country or territory outside Singapore where an inquiry into the death is not required to be held by any civil authority; and
(d)
any of the matters set out in Part I of the Second Schedule which the convening body decides to refer to the board, and other matters which are deemed by the convening body to be important matters.
(2)  Subject to these Regulations, a board convened by the convening body referred to in regulation 4(2) shall be competent to inquire into any of the matters set out in Part II of the Second Schedule and into any matter not being —
(a)
the absence of a person subject to military law;
(b)
the capture of any such person by the enemy; or
(c)
a matter which a board convened for the purposes of inquiry into matters set out in paragraph (1) is competent to inquire into, unless otherwise provided for.
Constitution of board
6.
—(1)  The following provisions shall apply in regard to the constitution of a board convened for the purpose of an inquiry into matters set out in regulation 5(1):
(a)
the board shall consist of not less than 3 persons to be appointed by the convening body;
(b)
the chairman shall be an officer not below the rank of captain, or an NUSAF officer not below grade 5, who is subject to military law;
(c)
each member of the board other than the chairman shall be an officer, or an NUSAF officer, who is subject to military law; and
(d)
an order convening the board shall specify by name the members of the board and which of them is to act as chairman.
(2)  The following provisions shall apply in regard to the constitution of a board convened for the purpose of an inquiry into the matters set out in regulation 5(2):
(a)
the board shall consist of one or more persons to be appointed by the convening body;
(b)
the chairman of the board shall be an officer or an NUSAF officer;
(c)
every member of the board shall be a person who is subject to military law; and
(d)
an order convening the board shall specify by name the member or members of the board and the person who is to act as chairman.
Deferring and staying of proceedings
7.
—(1)  Subject to paragraph (2), where a matter for inquiry that is within the competence of a board convened by any of the bodies set out in regulation 4(1) to inquire into is the subject of investigation by the military police or by civil authority or of proceedings under military law or of proceedings in a civil court whether within or without Singapore, and —
(a)
a board has not been convened with reference thereto, the convening body may defer the convening of a board until the completion of such investigation or proceedings and upon completion thereof shall not be required to convene a board if satisfied that a board is not necessary; or
(b)
a board has already been convened with reference thereto, the convening body may stay the proceedings of the board until such investigation or proceedings have been completed and shall then dissolve the board, if satisfied that a board is not necessary.
(2)  Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the convening of a board with reference to such absence and such deficiency (if any) as are mentioned in regulation 5(1)(a), but where the convening body is satisfied that the absence has terminated and —
(a)
a board has not yet been convened with reference to the absence and deficiency (if any), the convening body shall not be required to convene a board; or
(b)
the board has already been convened with reference thereto, the convening body may forthwith dissolve the board.
(3)  Where a matter is the subject of investigation by the military police, or is the subject of proceedings under military law or of proceedings in a civil court whether within or without Singapore, and a board has been convened to inquire into matters set out in regulation 5(2), the convening body may stay the proceedings thereof until such investigation or proceedings have been completed and shall then dissolve the board, if satisfied that a board is not necessary.
Assembly and procedure
8.
—(1)  A board shall assemble at the time and place specified in the order convening the board.
(2)  The chairman shall lay the terms of reference before the board and the board shall proceed to hear and record the evidence in accordance with these Regulations.
Adjournment and re-assembly
9.
—(1)  The chairman may, from time to time, adjourn the board which shall sit on such occasions and in such places as he may, from time to time, direct.
(2)  Without prejudice to paragraph (1), the convening body may at any time, if it is necessary or desirable, direct that the board shall re-assemble for such purpose or purposes as it may specify.
Witnesses
10.
—(1)  A board shall hear the evidence of the witnesses who have been made available by the convening body and may hear the evidence of such other persons as the board thinks fit.
(2)  A civilian witness shall be entitled to receive the reasonable expenses of his attendance and a reasonable allowance in respect of loss of time.
Person who may be affected by findings
11.
—(1)  Where it appears to the board that any witness or other person, being a witness or other person subject to military law, may be affected by the findings of the board, it shall take such steps as are in its view reasonable and necessary to secure that such witness or other person has notice of the proceedings, and, if he so desires, has an opportunity of being present, and represented at the sittings of the board, or at such part thereof as the chairman may specify.
(2)  For the purposes of these Regulations, an affected person is a person who is subject to military law and who, as a result of the findings of the board, might be subjected to disciplinary action or suffer a deduction from pay or be liable to be censured.
(3)  The chairman shall explain to an affected person (who is a witness at the inquiry) who does not apply to be present or represented, his rights either before the board begins to hear evidence or as soon as it becomes apparent that he is an affected person.
(4)  When an affected person referred to in paragraph (3) is not available, the chairman shall inquire into what steps were taken to ensure that the person was notified of both the date of the sitting of the board and the nature of the matters to be investigated by the board.
(5)  If the chairman is not satisfied that reasonable steps were taken to enable the person to be present and represented, he shall adjourn and report his opinion to the convening body.
(6)  Where a person who may be affected states that he does not wish to be present or to be represented, as the case may be, the chairman shall make note of that fact in the record of proceedings.
(7)  The chairman shall consider the interests of security and may direct that a person who may be affected shall only be present at specified times, or that at certain times during the proceedings that person’s representative shall not be present.
(8)  Any witness or other person as is referred to in paragraph (1) may give evidence, question witnesses or produce any witness to give evidence on matters which may affect him and, if he is represented, his representative may question witnesses, but a representative shall not address the board except with the permission of the chairman.
(9)  Where an affected person has not been given notice of any sitting of a board, and an opportunity of being present and represented thereat or any part thereof under paragraph (1), the board shall —
(a)
enable such person or his representative to read the written record of the evidence or a part thereof given by such witness as the chairman of the board may specify; and
(b)
inform such person that he may give any evidence to the board, examine any witness who has given evidence before the board, or produce such other witness as the board may allow to give evidence before the board on any matter inquired into by it which may affect such person.
(10)  Where a board has, under paragraph (9), enabled an affected person or his representative to read the written record of the evidence or a part thereof given by a witness before the board, the board shall, if the affected person so desires, allow him —
(a)
to give evidence to the board on any matter inquired into by it which may affect that person; and
(b)
to examine any witness who has given evidence before the board and to produce such other witness, as the board may allow to give evidence before it on such matter.
(11)  Where an affected person, referred to in paragraph (10) is represented, his representative may question witnesses before the board; but the representative shall not address the board except with the permission of the chairman.
Evidence
12.
—(1)  A board may receive any evidence which it considers relevant to the matter referred to the board, whether oral or written, and whether or not it would be admissible in a civil court.
(2)  A board shall not be bound by the rules of evidence and shall act in such manner as it thinks most expedient.
(3)  No statement made in the course of any inquiry and no report of a board of inquiry shall be admissible as evidence in proceedings before a Senior Disciplinary Committee, a subordinate military court or a disciplinary officer other than proceedings for an offence under section 49 of the Act.
Oaths and affirmations
13.
—(1)  Subject to paragraphs (2) and (4), every witness at a board convened to inquire into matters set out in regulation 5(1) shall be examined on oath, and a witness at a board convened to inquire into matters enumerated in regulation 5(2) shall only be examined on oath where the convening body so directs.
(2)  Where any child of tender years called as a witness does not in the opinion of the board understand the nature of an oath, his evidence may be received, though not given on oath, if in the opinion of the board he is possessed of sufficient intelligence to justify the reception of the evidence and understands the duty of speaking the truth.
(3)  Subject to paragraph (4) —
(a)
an oath shall be administered to any person in attendance as interpreter on a board convened to inquire into matters set out in regulation 5(1); and
(b)
an oath shall only be administered to a person in attendance as interpreter on a board convened to inquire into matters set out in regulation 5(2) when the convening body gives direction under paragraph (1).
(4)  If —
(a)
a person objects to taking an oath, and states as the ground of his objection that he has no religious belief or that the taking of an oath is contrary to his religious belief; or
(b)
it is not reasonably practicable without inconvenience or without delaying the proceedings to administer an oath in the manner appropriate to his religious belief,
he shall be permitted to make a solemn affirmation instead of taking an oath.
(5)  An oath shall be administered, or an affirmation made, before a board in the form and manner in Form 2 set out in the First Schedule.
Exhibits
14.
—(1)  Subject to paragraph (3), any document or thing produced to a board by a witness when giving his evidence shall be made an exhibit.
(2)  When an original document or thing is produced to a board by a witness, the board may at the request of the witness compare a copy of it or an extract of the relevant parts thereof with the original.
(3)  After the board has satisfied itself that such copy or extract is correct and the chairman has certified thereon that the board has compared it with the original and found it correct, the board may return the document or thing to the witness and attach the copy or extract to the record of proceedings as an exhibit.
(4)  Every exhibit shall —
(a)
be marked with a number or letter and be signed by the chairman or have a label affixed to it bearing a number or letter and the signature of the chairman; and
(b)
be attached to or kept with the record of the proceedings unless in the opinion of the chairman it is not expedient to attach it to or keep it with the record.
(5)  When an exhibit is not attached to or kept with the record of proceedings under paragraph (4)(b), the chairman shall ensure that proper steps are taken for its safe custody.
Progress reports
15.
—(1)  Progress reports, in Form 3 set out in the First Schedule, shall be rendered in respect of a board convened by any of the bodies referred to in regulation 4(1).
(2)  Such progress reports shall be rendered on the occurrence being inquired into, 6 weeks after the occurrence has been reported and at monthly intervals thereafter.
(3)  The report shall be initiated by the board and forwarded to the convening body.
Findings
16.
—(1)  A board shall set out facts which were found to be proved, and the finding shall be so framed as to include a clear and concise précis of the case in easily readable form.
(2)  When a board finds that a loss or damage to public or service property has been occasioned by the wrongful act or negligence of a specified person or persons, it shall, if directed by the convening body, express an opinion as to the specific person or persons responsible for the loss or damage, and shall, wherever possible apportion the degree of responsibility where more than one person is responsible.
(3)  A board shall, if required to do so by the convening body, record what steps have been taken since the loss or damage to prevent a recurrence and make any recommendations it thinks fit in order to prevent such recurrence, but it shall not recommend disciplinary action.
Record of proceedings
17.
—(1)  The chairman shall record, or cause to be recorded, the proceedings of the board in writing and in sufficient detail to enable the convening body to follow the course of the proceedings.
(2)  Where there is no shorthand writer present the evidence shall be taken down in narrative form recording as nearly as possible the words used, except that, if the board considers it necessary, any particular question and answer shall be taken down verbatim.
(3)  The evidence of each witness, as soon as it has been taken in accordance with paragraph (2), shall be read over to him and shall be signed by him.
(4)  A record of proceedings shall be signed by the chairman and other members of the board, if any, and forwarded to the convening body.
(5)  No person is entitled, as of right, to a copy of the record of proceedings of any inquiry.
(6)  Privilege shall be claimed for the record of proceedings of inquiries.
(7)  No record of proceedings of any inquiry or any extract therefrom or information relating thereto shall be shown or given to the civil police or other individual or body outside the Singapore Armed Forces, without reference to the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
Entries of reports in service books
18.
—(1)  Where a board inquiring into the absence of a serviceman reports that he has been absent without leave or other sufficient cause for a period specified in the report, not being less than 21 days, a record of the report shall be entered in the service book.
(2)  A record entered under paragraph (1) shall, unless the absentee subsequently surrenders or is arrested, or the report of the board is annulled by the Armed Forces Council or a subsequent board, have the like effect as a conviction by a court-martial for desertion.
Form of summons to give evidence
19.  A summons to give evidence on oath or on affirmation or produce any document or material necessary for the purposes of an inquiry by a board shall be in Form 4 set out in the First Schedule.