4 Generals face court martial in Darjeeling land fraud case

The Army headquarters here said it had received the inquiry report on Wednesday from the authorities, who ordered the inquiry, and that it would analyse the details to initiate action in accordance with military law.

The report, according to sources, had recommended "termination of services" of Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, the Military Secretary at the Army headquarters, as per Army Act and Army Rules "for unduly influencing" the transfer of the civilian land adjacent to Sukhna military station in Darjeeling to a private institution.

It also directed court martial proceedings against Deputy Chief of Staff designate Lt Gen P K Rath and Major Gen P C Sen, under whose tenure at 33 Corps headquarters in Sukhna the land fraud took place, for issuing a No-Objection Certificate to the private institution, which falsely claimed to start an affiliate of Ajmer-based Mayo College in the 70-acre land, they said.

The report also recommended that Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, who is at present the 11 Corps commander at Jalandhar, and had a minor role in the NOC episode in his earlier tenure in Darjeeling, should face administrative action, sources added.
Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen V K Singh, the convening authority of the probe, had a couple of days ago sent his recommendation to Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor seeking action against the four Generals for their alleged involvement in the land fraud.

Army officials said it was now up to Kapoor to take a call on the course to be adopted on Singh's recommendations.
"The Court of Inquiry has been completed and received by Army HQ today. The proceedings of the Inquiry will now be analysed as per the existing Standard Operating Procedures in accordance with the military law," a Army spokesperson said in a statement here.

"It is reiterated that the Army is amongst the few organisations which is very sensitive to any irregularities and have proactively sought immediate and timely action against those indulging in any wrongs," he added.

The Court of Inquiry (COI), headed by Lt Gen K T Parnaik, the General Officer Commanding of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps, had held the four officers culpable for their role in issuing the NOC to Dilip Aggarwal Geetanjali Education Trust, much against the earlier Army stand that the NOC should not be issued.
After the Darjeeling land controversy broke out, Defence Minister A K Antony had ordered an independent probe and instructed the Army that even the top brass should not be spared if the charges were proved.

Lt Gen Prakash, one of the top eight senior officers in the headquarters, is an advisor to Gen Deepak Kapoor and is responsible for promotions and postings of officers.
His name cropped up in the land fraud probe after it was found mentioned in the brochure of the Trust, which had bought the land allegedly by misusing the NOC.
The Trust had claimed Lt Gen Prakash would join it as a director soon after his retirement.

Lt Gen Rath was all set to go the Army headquarters as Deputy Chief of Army Staff, one of the principal staff officers to the chief, but his posting was scrapped after the probe was initiated in the land fraud case in which his name figured.

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