Article 134 - Debt, Dishonorably Failing To Pay
Any person who borrows a specific sum of money from an alleged person/persons
at the alleged time, and dishonorably fails to pay even after the alleged
due date, is in violation of the general Article 134 and shall be punished
as deemed fit by the military court.
The elements of crime that the article covers are as follows -
- The accused had borrowed a specific sum of money from the alleged person/persons
and was indebted to them
- The debt had become due and payable by the accused on the said date
- The accused dishonorably failed to repay the debt even though it was still
due and payable by him or her
- Under the alleged circumstances, the accused person's conduct was of
the nature such that it brought discredit upon the armed forces or it
was to the prejudice of the discipline and good order of the forces.
Explanation of the article
To be charged under the article 134, for dishonorably failing to pay debt,
the accused person should have failed to repay the debt not just due to
negligence, but because of the absence of due care. A dishonorable failure
to pay is characterized by fraud or deceit, with the accused deliberately,
willfully evading the debt or evading it in bad faith. It is also dishonorable
if the debt was based on false promises, all of which are a result of
the accused person's overall indifferent attitude towards his or her
Also, the conduct of the accused should have been in a manner such that
it causes an obvious and direct damage to the good order of the armed
forces, or it should be of such a nature that it damages the reputation
of the service.
Note - It is important to note that for the debt to be the basis of offense under
this article, the accused must not have had a counter claim according
to his or her belief or a fact. Also, a person cannot be charged of dishonorably
failing to pay a debt if there had been an actual dispute between the
accused and the party he or she is indebted to, according to the facts
or a law that in any way affects the obligation of the accused to pay.
Situations when accused is proven guilty
If the court finds beyond reasonable doubt that there is sufficient evidence
such as the accused person's past debt history, his failure to make
payments, late payments made, failure to pay rent or contact rental agent
in spite of receiving a formal notice, then the accused can be convicted
of the offense of dishonorably failing to pay the debt. In the sense,
the accused should have a "criminal state of mind" and he or
she should be totally indifferent to his or her obligation with regards
to the debt.
The accused, however, may not be proven guilty if the court fails to obtain
facts that suggest that the conduct of the accused was dishonorable with
regards to the debt. Also, it is not an offense if it fails to resolve
inconsistencies which suggest the inability of the accused to pay or lack
of evasion or deceit on his part. So if the judge or panel finds evidence
that suggests otherwise and a lack of "criminal state of mind",
such as the accused being in agreement with the creditor, mistakes in
the terms of debt or a satisfaction of the debt, the accused may not be
guilty of the offense.
It is necessary to note that mere failure to pay the debt back does not
make it dishonorable conduct and the accused may be punished for his or
her inability to pay.
Should the court find evidence, which proves beyond reasonable doubt, that
the accused had willfully evaded his or her debt obligations or has denied
the existence of debt, or fails to pay the debt in bad faith even after
the due date has passed, he or she will be subject to confinement of no
more than six months as maximum punishment.