M A I N   N E W S

Lt Gen Rath found guilty in Sukna scam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
A court martial of the Indian Army today found the former 33 Corps Commander Lt Gen P. K. Rath ‘guilty’ on three counts in the Sukna land scam in West Bengal that rocked the force and tarnished its image in the latter part of 2009 and early 2010.

Lt Gen Rath is the senior-most serving General in the Army to have faced such an action. The quantum of sentence in the case is expected in a couple of days. The Court Martial proceedings were conducted at Shillong and seven Lieutenant -General rank officers led by Lt Gen IP Singh were on the panel to hear the proceedings. Another senior General Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, who was the Military Secretary to former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor but is retired now, too is expected to face action. The orders for Lt Gen Prakash' court martial was issued by Gen Deepak Kapoor before his retirement in March 2010.

Lt Gen Rath had been charged with intent to defraud the Army by issuing a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to a private realtor to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre land adjacent to the military station. Among the charges are intent to defraud the army by issuing the NOC “improperly and without authority” and without “due and proper” examination of security concerns of the Army installations; signing a memorandum of understanding with the private realtor to reserve seats in the educational institution for wards of Army officers; not informing the higher authorities about the land transfer, sources said today.

The fraud charges could attract punishment from “displeasure to dismissal”.

When the scam had come to light in November 2009, the Army had ordered a court of inquiry, which held that Lt. Gen. Rath, Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, Lt. Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj Gen P Sen were blameworthy. Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halgali was Lt. Gen. Rath’s Chief of Staff at 33 Corps and Maj. Gen. P. Sen was the administrative head of the Sukna military station in Siliguri district of West Bengal. It was latter established that Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halgali was actually the whistle-blower in the case and had brought the issue to the notice of the Army higher-ups. Maj Gen. P Sen faced minor administrative action, as his role in the whole episode was found to be negligible in nature.

The Court of Inquiry had come to the conclusion that Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash had influenced the decision of Lt Gen P K Rath to issue the NOC to the private realtor, identified as Dalip Aggarwal of Siliguri. The CoI had led to a stand off between the then Army Chief Gen Kapoor and the Defence Minister AK Antony. Subsequently, Gen. Kapoor was forced to order a court martial against Lt. Gen Rath and Lt Gen Prakash.





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