Sukna: Army court to review charges against Rath

SHILLONG, July 10 – The Army court, which had awarded a sentence of two-year loss of seniority to Lt Gen P K Rath in the Sukna land scam, will re-assemble here tomorrow to look afresh at the charges levelled against him.

The Eastern Army Commander, the convening authority in the 2008 land scam, has directed the General Court Martial (GCM) to reconvene, asking it to reconsider the first charge – intent to defraud – of which Rath was acquitted, Army sources told PTI.

During the proceedings, the prosecution is likely to raise some “overlooked facts” regarding the charge against Rath, the former 33 Corps Commander.

The prosecution, to be represented by counsel Raghavendra Jha, will also seek enhancement of the sentence, the sources said.

The charges are regarding issue of No-objection certificate to private builders for construction of an educational institution adjacent to the Sukna military base.

The jury, headed by Presiding Officer I J Singh, will comprise six Lieutenant-Generals instead of seven as one of them, Lt Gen J K Srivastava, retired as Director-General of Remount and Veterinary Corp last month.

Rath was facing seven charges, but the GCM, which delivered its judgement on January 22 last, found him guilty on three counts and four other charges including that of ‘intent to defraud’ were dropped.

Rath, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff-designate, was found guilty of conveying NoC in the capacity of 33 Corps Commander to a private realtor for construction of an educational institution 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 an MoU with Geetanjali Trust for construction of the educational institute and for not informing his superiors in the Eastern Command about the proposed agreement.

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.

Court martial proceedings against the then Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash in the case is going on in Guwahati.