Army receives report on land scam

Servicemen in soup: Court findings being examined


The recommendations of the Court of Inquiry are being studied by the adjutant general branch at Army Headquarters, which will suggest the next course of action to the Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, said a senior officer.

The land scam had rocked Army Headquarters and South Block. It involves four top generals, including Lt Gen 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.

The other two officers whose names figured in the scam are Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major P Sen. The Court of Inquiry was convened by Lt Gen V K Singh, General Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command in Kolkata, who is tipped to become the next Army Chief once Gen Kapoor retires.

The Court of Inquiry established that a real estate developer in Siliguri had inked an illegal memorandum of understanding to obtain an illegal no objection certificate from the Army for acquiring 71 acres of land next to 33 Corps headquarters for setting up an elite educational institute.

Gen Prakash, apparently, not only used his position to seal the deal but also lobbied hard to ensure that the new institute gets a prestigious brand name from an educational institution.

“The proceedings of the inquiry will now be analysed as per the existing standard operating procedures in accordance with the military law,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement. Under the law it is not required for the defence minister to look into the Court of Inquiry report. But, in a highly unusual step, Defence Minister A K Antony has asked the Army to send the file to him before taking any decision.
However, any decisions are unlikely to come before Army Day on January 15. In the next step, the Army Chief can order “summary of evidence” against the accused officers when the process of collecting evidence against the individuals will be initiated.

Illegal act

The officers, who were indicted in the allegations, can defend themselves only at this point. The Court of Inquiry only makes an effort to find out if an illegal act has been committed and whether service officers are involved in any wrong-doing.
Gen Prakash—in charge of all staff and field postings —is due to retire on January 31. But the legal process can continue even after his retirement.

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