This Article is From Feb 15, 2010

Army land scam: High Court refuses to intervene

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has said that officers found guilty of corruption by an army inquiry cannot appeal to the court for help.

Lieutenant General PK Rath had appealed to the High Court against his indictment in the multi-crore Sukna land scam in West Bengal.   He wanted the court to stop the army's court of inquiry against him. He had also objected to the army's decision to recall his posting as Deputy Chief of Army Staff because of his alleged corruption.

The court, however, said it does not have the jurisdiction to hear this case, and asked Rath to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal instead.  

The controversy revolves around a piece of land next to the army's 33 Corps Headquarters in Siliguri in West Bengal. In May 2008, the Army officially wrote to the West Bengal government, stating that it wanted to acquire this land. In October 2008, Lt General P K Rath took over as the 33 Corps Commander and reiterated the Army's decision to buy the land. A few days later, Military Secretary Lt General Avadesh Prakash visited Chumta tea estate during his official tour to 33 Corps, and referred businessman Dilip Agarwal, who wanted to buy the land, to General Rath. In March this year, 33 Corps under General Rath granted the land to Agarwal with a no-objection certificate.

After the evidence is presented against Rath in the army's court of inquiry, he may face a court martial. (Read: What is court martial?)

So far, the internal report states that his decision was "hasty and top-driven action." He's also blamed for "not seeking the concurrence of the Eastern Command."

Under pressure from the Defence Minister, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has already ordered a court martial against Prakash. (Read: Court martial for Military Secretary Avadesh Prakash)

The Army's inquiry found that Prakash misused his position as Military Secretary to help the real estate developer who ultimately got the army's ok to buy this land.

Prakash is the country's most-senior army officer to ever face a court martial.