“The General Court Martial exists as a separate forum from that of the summary trial. Unlike the summary trial, the GCM can deal with a wider range of offences, and can impose a wider range of punishments including imprisonment and discharge, on top of sentences like detention and fines. The GCM is also a more public and open forum, and its proceedings are conducted using similar legal rules and procedures as those used in a civil criminal court.
Generally, only serious offences investigated by the Military Police Command, and which are referred to the office of the Director of Legal Services, will result in the accused serviceman being charged in a GCM. In such a case, a military prosecutor will draw up a formal charge sheet and present it before the GCM.
General Courts Martial can be further sub-divided into two categories, namely the Panel Courts Martial – consisting of a President and usually two other members, and Judge Courts Martial – consisting of a single President only.
Currently, the practice is for military offences to be heard by Panel Courts Martial, while civil offences like misuse of drugs and penal code offences may be dealt with by a Judge Court Martial.
The current policy is also for an NSman, who is or was a District Judge in the Subordinate Courts, to preside in a GCM. There are currently 10 NSmen who have been appointed by the Armed Forces Council to perform duty as President of a court martial. They are rostered by the Registrar of the Subordinate Military Court to hear cases during their in-camp training. In the case of a Panel Court Martial, the other two members are rostered from among some 155 military officers appointed by the Chief of Defence Force.”
Singapore Armed Forces Act: Singapore Armed Forces Act