Govt asks Army to probe land scam

Govt asks Army to probe land scam

Sena Bhavan awaiting inquiry report before proceeding with Darjeeling case

The army, however, has cited technicality arguing that the CoI is yet to be completed and may take a few weeks more before the report could be submitted to the minister.

The CoI will be completed only when its recommendation formally comes to Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor.

Typically, a CoI report does not come to the defence minister. But taking note of the major land scam that rocked the South Block and the army headquarters, Antony has sought the CoI report.

The scam involves four top generals, including Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash, one of the eight Principal Staff Officers in the headquarters, and Lt Gen P K Rath, whose appointment as a deputy chief of the army staff has been scrapped by the defence ministry after the scam surfaced.

Lt Gen Prakash is the military secretary to the army chief who has the responsibility of appointing top officers in various command and staff postings.

Other two officers whose names figured in the scam are Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and one Major Sen. The possibility of involvement of other officers in the chain of command cannot be ruled out at this stage.

The CoI is being conducted by the Kolkata-based Eastern Command whose commander-in-chief Lt Gen V K Singh is tipped to be next chief of the army staff.

Incidentally, both Gen Prakash and Army Chief Gen Kapoor are due to retire in a few months. The CoI has established that a real estate developer had inked an illegal memorandum of understanding to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Army for acquiring 71 acres of land next to 33 Corps headquarters for setting up an educational institution. Rath was heading the Corps and Halgali was one of his deputies.

Though Prakash had no direct role in issuing the NOC, the CoI is believed to have found evidences of his “influences” to see the deal through.

The Army has, however, maintained that since the CoI is still in progress and not finalised, it cannot comment on the guilt of any individual at the moment.