Seniority loss, reprimand for Lt. Gen. Rath

Shillong: An Army Court Martial on Saturday ordered a two-year seniority loss, 15 years of loss of service for pension and severe reprimand for Lt Gen P K Rath, a day after finding him guilty in Sukna land scam.

"To take rank and precedence as if appointment as substantiating Lt Gen bore dated May 24, 2010, forfeiture of 15 years service for pensionary benefits and severely reprimand," General Court Martial (GCM) Presiding Officer Lt Gen I J Singh said in his verdict.

The two-year loss of seniorty would mean that the officer who took the three-star rank in May 2008, would be now considered as being promoted as Lt Gen from May 2010 only. He has one more year of service left.

Rath was found guilty by the court yesterday on three counts while four other charges against him were dropped.

Rath, who became the first serving Lt General-rank officer to be convicted for corruption, broke down in the court before pronouncement of the judgement.

He expressed gratitude to the GCM for dropping the defraud charges. "This has removed the stigma which has been haunting me ever since the chargesheet was filed in the case," he said.

The order is subject to confirmation by the Defence Ministry.

Rath, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff-designate, was found guilty of issuing a `No-Objection Certificate` in the capacity of 33 Corps Commander to a private realtor for constructing educational institutions on a piece of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.

The other two charges for which he was found guilty 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 four charges of `intent to defraud` against the officer were dropped by the GCM.

Rath has become the first serving Lt General rank officer to be 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.