Sukna land scam: Lt.Gen. Avadesh Prakash sacked by court martial (Roundup)December 3rd, 2011 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS
Guwahati, Dec 3 (IANS) Indian Army’s former military secretary, Lt. Gen. (retd) Avadesh Prakash was Saturday dismissed from service by an army court martial for his involvement in a land scam at Sukna military station in West Bengal in 2008, becoming the senior-most officer to be cashiered from service.
He also became the sixth Lt. Gen. of the Indian Army to have faced a court martial or a court of inquiry and later punished on indiscipline charges.
“The army court found Lt.Gen. (retd) Avadesh Prakash guilty in three of the four charges (against him). He has been dismissed from service and would be deprived of pension and other benefits, besides losing his rank and other decorations,” army spokesperson S.S. Phogat said.
The court martial was held at the 51 sub-area army military station in Narengi on the outskirts of Assam’s main city of Guwahati. Headed by Lt. Gen. Philip Campose, it had completed the trial Friday and found Avadesh Prakash guilty on three counts, including intent to defraud and conduct unbecoming of an officer under sections 45 and 52 of the Army Act respectively, army sources told IANS.
He was, however, acquitted on the charge of pecuniary gains (corruption), a civilian crime.
The dismissal from service with retrospective effect would mean Lt.Gen. Avadesh Prakash will lose his rank and be cashiered from service.
A retired officer of the Indian Army can be court martialled for offences committed while in service up to three years from his or her superannuation. Avadesh Prakash retired from service Jan 31, 2010.
The scam involves transfer of 71 acres of land adjacent to Sukna military station in West Bengal to a private trust on the pretext of construction of an educational institution there to a Siliguri-based realtor.
The army had in January this year punished another senior officer and former 33 Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath, in the same case and had awarded punishment involving loss of seniority and some part of his pension.
Both Avadesh Prakash and Rath had been earlier indicted in early 2010 by a court of inquiry constituted by the army in 2009.
The scam dates back to 2008 and Avadesh Prakash was found culpable for influencing the issue of the no-objection certificate by Rath in early 2009, after having informed the West Bengal government earlier that army intended to acquire the 71-acre land for itself.
The scam came out in the open in later part of 2009, leading to the army initiating the disciplinary proceedings against senior army officials, including Avadesh Prakash and Rath on the orders of then Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander and present-day army chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh.
Though the then army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, in early 2010, wanted to let off Avadesh Prakash lightly with just an administrative action, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had intervened and ordered that he be court martial.
Avadesh Prakash was then army’s military secretary and one of the nine principal staff offices of then army chief, Gen. Kapoor.
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Tags: army act, army sources, army spokesperson, assam, corps commander, educational institution, indian army, indiscipline, land scam, military secretary, military station, outskirts, prakash, pretext, private trust, rath, retrospective effect, roundup, superannuation, west bengal