M A I N   N E W S

2 Lt-Gens face axe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Two top-ranking Army officers could face the axe or an inglorious exit from the force after a Court of Inquiry (CoI) has found the duo guilty of allegedly favouring a private body and issuing a ‘no-objection certificate’ for construction of an educational establishment adjacent to the Army base near Siliguri.

Military Secretary Lt-Gen Avadesh Prakash, who is responsible for all senior level postings of the Army, has been found guilty in the inquiry that was completed at Kolkata last week. Deputy Army Chief-designate Lt-Gen PK Rath is the other officer who has been found guilty, revealed sources here. A decision on their future is likely this week. Sources said they could either be court-martialled or allowed an ‘honourable’ exit — this means being on leave till retirement.

Given the way Defence Minister AK Antony had reacted when the CoI was ordered, it seems unlikely that he would allow an exit, added sources. He had made it clear that all those who are involved will be taken to task. The CoI was ordered after it was found that 33 Corps Headquarters near Darjeeling had allowed commercial use of Army land adjacent to the base. A certain distance has to be maintained from the outer perimeter of an Army base and any construction within that “barred zone” is allowed only if the Army issues an NoC. On this 70-acre chunk of land, a 300-crore unit of a Kolkata-based enterpise was to come up. The CoI found out that Lt Gen Prakash played a crucial role in the ‘deal’. The General replaced the original decision of the 33 Corps, which had decided against permitting any commercial enterprises on a piece of land outside the corps headquarters near Siliguri. A forged document was used to replace the original papers in the Army files.

Sources said the clincher was when Lt-Gen PK Rath told the CoI that his actions were at the behest of Lt-Gen Prakash. The third General, who could face the music is Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali. He has been blamed of “administrative lapses”. He could escape with some major penalty.

Prakash is a principal staff officer (PSO), one of the seven senior Lt Generals who look after crucial functions of the Army and report directly to the Army chief.



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