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Action initiated against serving Generals
Published on 13 Jan. 2010 12:39 AM IST
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In a feeble response to one of the biggest scandals to rock the Army in recent times, three of the four generals accused in the alleged Sukna land scam case, including Army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s close aide Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, seem to have gotten away lightly. Only one, Lt Gen P K Rath, faces the prospect of a court martial. The action in what has become the ‘test case’ for Army’s response to growing corruption in its ranks, suggests that the Army HQ brass has disregarded the recommendations of Eastern Army Command (EAC) chief Lt Gen V K Singh. Lt Gen Singh, who is slated to replace Gen Kapoor as Army chief on March 31, had recommended immediate ‘termination of services’ of Lt Gen Prakash. Sources on Monday said Gen Kapoor had finalized only ‘administrative action’ against Lt Gen Prakash — who as the military secretary is one of his eight principal staff officers at Army HQ — 11 Corps commander Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major-General P C Sen. “This means they will be slapped with only a censure or reprimand,” said a source. Lt Gen Rath, however, faces ‘disciplinary action’ in the shape of a court martial since he was the chief of the 33 Corps based in Darjeeling district when the alleged conspiracy to aid the transfer of a 71-acre tea estate adjacent to the Sukna military station to a real estate developer close to Lt Gen Prakash took place last year. The light punishment apparently being meted out to the officers involved in the Sukna case comes even as the Army is all agog with talk of a ‘turf war’ raging between Gen Kapoor and Lt Gen Singh. Consequently, all eyes were on Gen Kapoor to see if he accepted or diluted Lt Gen Singh’s recommendations and the time he took to arrive at the decision since Lt Gen Prakash is slated to retire on January 31. On Monday, a top Army spokesperson, however, said, “Gen Kapoor has directed the adjutant general to issue showcause notices to all the officers found prima facie guilty in the court of inquiry (CoI) in the Sukna case.” “They have to respond within 30 days. The next course of action, whether disciplinary or administrative action, will be decided only after that,” he added. But legal jargon apart, the fact that three of the alleged protagonists can get away with little more than a slap on the wrist is sure to intensify the buzz about partisanship. The CoI, conducted under the aegis of the Kolkata-based EAC, indicted Lt Gen Prakash as the alleged main facilitator of the conspiracy in the case Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, warned the Army that such cases “not only damage its image” but also “adversely affect the ability of senior officers to measure up to the expectations of the men they lead”.

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