Sukna land scam: VK Singh virtually indicted, Rath cleared

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September 6, 2014

Former Lt Gen PK Rath cleared of all wrong-doing in Sukna land case; military tribunal recognises former Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s role in the affair

September 6, 2014

Former Lt Gen PK Rath cleared of all wrong-doing in Sukna land case; military tribunal recognises former Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s role in the affair

New Delhi: Virtually indicting former Army chief and Union Minister General VK Singh, the Armed Forces Tribunal on Friday quashed the court martial of Lieutenant General PK Rath who was punished for his alleged role in a land scam in West Bengal.

In 2011, a court martial found him guilty in the alleged scam for issuing a No-Objection Certificate to a private builder, to build an educational institution on a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military cantonment in Sukna in West Bengal. The land deal came to light in mid-2008 when former Army Chief Gen V K Singh was the Eastern Army Commander and had initiated the court of inquiry in the alleged land scam.

The tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the Army for “loss of honour”. The case became the first one to feature a serving three-star rank officer – Lt Gen Rath – having to face disciplinary action. Lt Gen Rath and Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash were court-martialed. The former was the first to be punished but has now been cleared. “The petitioner is acquitted of all charges. He is entitled to restoration of all benefits with 12 per cent interest,” an Armed Forces Tribunal Bench headed by Justice Sunil Hali said.

The Bench said the petitioner suffered undue harassment and loss of reputation by the act of respondents, which, if not compensated, would be a travesty of justice. “Therefore, as a notional compensation for the harassment and loss of honour and name caused to the petitioner, a cost of Rs 100,000 is to be paid by respondents,” it said.

In his petition, Rath alleged Singh gave undue importance to the case as he had a “serious grudge” against the former Military Secretary, Lt Gen Prakash, whom he held responsible for obtaining a commitment from him on the issue of his (Singh’s) date of birth, which stood in the way of his extension of tenure as Chief of Army Staff.

The tribunal said some witnesses in the case have been indicted for lapses but they have been given lighter sentences by the Army. "As a matter of fact, some of them have been promoted by the Chief of Army Staff, which was done after their statements were recorded by the General Court Martial, after setting aside their sentences," the tribunal said.


Courtesy: PTI

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