M A I N   N E W S

Land Scam
Antony orders court martial of Lt Gen
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Virtually cracking the whip and differing from the opinion of the Indian Army chief, Defence Minister AK Antony today recommended that court martial proceedings be initiated against military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash.

Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor had recommended only a milder “administrative action” against Lt Gen Prakash and two others, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major-Gen P Sen, while he okayed disciplinary proceedings against Lt Gen PK Rath in what is now known as the “Darjeeling land scam”. Administrative action is a mild reprimand when compared with disciplinary proceedings, which can lead up to a court martial.

The advice of the Defence Minister had reached the Army chief this evening, sources said while confirming the developments. Such an advice coming from the Defence Minister was unprecedented. The onus is now on the Army chief to take action. Sources said the Army chief is “unlikely to differ on the Defence Minister’s advice” and it was likely that General Prakash will not escape unscathed.

Last week, Adjutant-General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal acting on the advice of the Army chief issued notices for taking administrative action against Military Secretary General Prakash and others. General Prakash, who is to retire on January 31, has replied to the notice, sources said today.

Last week, Antony had questioned the Army chief as to why different yardsticks were applied in deciding the nature of action against four senior Generals. The court of inquiry ordered by the Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen VK Singh had indicted two officers, including General Prakash, for their role in issuing a no-objection certificate to a private establishment that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of the well known Ajmer-based Mayo College on land adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling district.

On Saturday, General Kapoor had explained to the defence ministry why he wanted only an administrative action against Prakash while the COI ordered by General VK Singh had wanted General Prakash be sacked. The Army chief ’s ruling given on January 11 was in contrast to the recommendation of the COI and that had prompted Antony to seek a reply.

The Defence Minister had reportedly asked General Kapoor as to what was the basis to take disciplinary action against only one of the four senior Generals who were facing a probe.

Lt Gen Rath, is his earlier capacity as commander of the 33 corps at Darjeeling, had a major role in of signing of a memorandum of understanding with a private realtor for a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military station near Darjeeling. Rath during the court of inquiry had blamed the military secretary for putting pressure on him to allow the MoU.



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