Army court’s verdict in Sukna land scam soon

January 18th, 2011 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Jan 18 (IANS) An army court martial trying former 33 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath on charges of fraud in the Sukna land scam is in its final stages and is expected to pronounce its verdict in the case anytime soon. “The case is in its final stages of hearing by the court martial and the judgment is expected anytime soon,” an officer in the army’s legal department said here Tuesday.

The court martial is being held since September last, and was convened with Lt. Gen. I.P. Singh as the presiding officer following the army’s decision early last year to try P.K. Rath in the case.

Apart from Rath, former Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash too will face a court martial soon in the case.

Rath had in October last year approached the Delhi bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal seeking to quash the charges against him in the Sukna court martial, but his plea was rejected.

The land scam came into the open in mid-2008 and the names of Avadesh Prakash and P.K. Rath figured among the senior army officers who influenced the decision to issue the no-objection certificate (NOC) to a Siliguri-based private builder to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.

Others to be named in the case include Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halgali, who was Rath’s chief of staff and later went on to become Jalandhar-based 11 Corps commander in Punjab and Director General of Military Training in the army headquarters, and Maj. Gen. P.K. Sen, who was the administration officer in the military station at the time the NOC was issued.

The army had ordered a court of inquiry into the Sukna land scam in late 2008, following which former army chief General Deepak Kapoor decided to take minor administrative action as punishment to these officers in early 2009.

However, on the advice of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Kapoor had to order disciplinary action against Rath and Prakash, which entailed their court martial.

Also, Rath’s appointment as the army’s Deputy Chief was cancelled by the defence ministry following the army inquiry in the Sukna land scam.

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