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Sukna land scam: Lt. Gen. Rath found guilty
Correspondent SHILLONG, JAN 21
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Published on 21 Jan. 2011 11:59 PM IST
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: Lt Gen P K Rath, former commander of the 33 Corps, was found guilty Friday by an army court in the Rs. 300 crore Sukna land scam in West Bengal.
However, the verdict will be officially declared only tomorrow, an army official said.
Lt. Gen. Rath, the designated deputy chief of army staff, is the highest ranking serving officer to have found guilty for corruption.
According to advocate Raghavendra Jha, the Counsel for prosecution, said Rath was found guilty on three counts which include violation of military discipline and rules, the decision to construct the education institution in the land even when there was objection from the army and no-objection certificate given to the private party.
The official will face punishment under section 63 of the Army act.
Today’s verdict is after eight month long court marital at 58 Gorkha Training Centre (GTC), at Happy Valley, comprising of eight lieutenant generals headed by lieutenant general I.P. Singh The court martial followed since the summary of evidence (SoE) recorded against Rath had found grounds for carrying out disciplinary action against the official.
Another senior general, Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash, who was the Military Secretary when General Deepak Kapoor was the army chief but is now retired, is also expected to face a court martial in the same case. The order for Prakash’s court martial was issued by Kapoor before his retirement in March 2010.
The Rs 300 crore scam had come to light, the army had ordered a court of inquiry, which held that Rath and Lt. Gen Prakash, as also Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halgali and Maj. Gen. P.K. Sen were blameworthy.
Lt. Gen. Halgali was Lt. Gen. Rath’s Chief of Staff at 33 Corps and Sen was the administrative head of the Sukna military station in Siliguri district of West Bengal.
Lt. Gen. Rath, had earlier challenged the move of the court of inquiry against him, but the Delhi High Court had refused to give any relief.
The Court of Inquiry had come to the conclusion that Avadesh Prakash had influenced Rath’s decision to issue the NOC to the private realtor, identified as Dalip Agarwal of Siliguri.
Following the probe report, Kapoor had in early 2010 ordered minor administrative action as punishment to the officers, which was overruled by Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
Subsequently, Kapoor had to order courts martial against Rath and Avadesh Prakash, who had retired in January 2010.
That apart, the government also put on hold Rath’s appointment as the deputy chief of the army.
Halgali was let-off with administrative action as he was the whistleblower in the case and had brought the issue to the notice of the army higher-ups.
Sen faced administrative action, as his role in the entire episode was found to be minor in nature.

 
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