Major general on trial next week for sexual misconduct

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by admin  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The first court martial of an Indian Army major general, charged with sexual misconduct with a subordinate woman officer, will begin next week in Bathinda (Punjab), army officials said here. Maj. Gen. A.K. Lal has been charged with misbehaving with Captain Neha Rawat. A court of inquiry has found enough evidence to try him.

“The court martial to decide whether or not Lal is guilty will begin sometime in next week and will be conducted by Maj. Gen. Raj Sujlana,” sources told IANS.

Sujlana is the general officer Commanding 10 Corps Bathinda. The court martial proceedings are expected to take two-three months.

“If found guilty Lal could be dismissed from service or even cashiered (a disgraceful dismissal from service) and handed out a token punishment,” an army official said.

Captain Neha Rawat of the Corps of Signals had filed a complaint last year alleging that Lal, the then general officer Commanding (GOC) of the Leh-based 3 Infantry Division, had misbehaved with her during a meditation session.

The then Indian Army chief, Gen. J.J. Singh, who was on a visit to Srinagar on the day the complaint was filed in September, had immediately issued orders to initiate action against Lal on the basis of Rawat’s complaint.

“The circumstantial evidence may favour Captain Rawat. Many questions like why she was called alone to Lal’s house for a meditation session, which was not even part of official training, may go against Lal,” sources said.

In his defence, Lal asked why Rawat came to his house for a second time if she felt uncomfortable during the first visit.

Lal’s family has jumped to his defence, hitting out at Rawat and questioning her character. Lal’s wife Akansha rebutted the charges against him at a press conference and accused Rawat of taking refuge in her “sexuality with nefarious motives”.

“Even though earlier there have been cases of outraging the modesty of a woman in the Indian Army, this is for the first time a senior officer is being tried for the charge,” the official added.

Currently there are around 1,000 women officers serving in the army.

Pending inquiry, Lal was relieved of his command and attached to the 15 Corps headquarters.

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