Lt Gen Rath found guilty in land scam

Shillong: Lt Gen P K Rath, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff-designate, was on Friday found guilty by an Army court martial in the Sukna land scam, becoming the highest ranking serving officer to be convicted for corruption.

The former 33 Corps Commander was found guilty on three charges by the General Court Martial (GCM), including issuance of the `No Objection Certificates` to a private realtor for constructing educational institutions on a piece of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal, sources said.

The other charges are signing of MoU with Geetanjali Trust for construction of the educational institute and for not informing his superiors in the Eastern Command about the proposed agreement.

The quantum of sentence to the officer would be pronounced on Sunday, they added.

Rath was informed about his conviction by GCM`s presiding officer Lt Gen I J Singh.

Rath was facing trial on seven charges including intent to defraud but he has been cleared on the other four charges, his counsel Major S S Pandey said.

This is the first case where a serving Lt General rank officer has been found guilty of corruption. Earlier also Lt Generals have been court martialled but the convictions have come after their retirement.

Rath had been designated as Deputy Chief of Army Staff but when the scandal came to light in 2008, his appointment was cancelled and since then has been attached to different army formations for disciplinary proceedings.

An Army Court of Inquiry had found Rath guilty of wrongdoing along with Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, the then Military Secretary to the Army Chief, Lt Gen Ramesh Halguly, the then 11 Corps Commander and Maj Gen P K Sen.

Subsequently, the Court Martial was ordered against Rath and Prakash while administrative action was directed against the two other officers.

Prakash, the senior most of the four, is also facing disciplinary action in the case and his Summary of Evidence (SoE) has been completed in the Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata.

Halgali is presently serving as the Director General (Military Training) in the Army headquarters in New Delhi.