Court martial finds Lt Gen Rath guilty in Sukna scam

An army court martial on Friday found Lt Gen P K Rath guilty of involvement in what has become known as the Sukna land scam. The lieutenant general is the highest ranking serving officer ever to be convicted in a court martial in India.

Rath was found guilty by an Army court martial on three counts - issuing a no-objection certificate (NOC), signing a memorandum of understanding with the builder, and not informing command headquarters about the deal.

The court martial, conducted by a panel of five lieutenant generals headed by Lt Gen I P Singh, delivered its judgment here after about an eight-month-long hearing in the case. The court martial is being held since September last, following the army's decision early last year to try P K Rath in the case.

The land scam came into the open in mid-2008 and the names of Avadesh Prakash and P K Rath figured among the senior army officers who influenced the decision to issue the NOC to a Siliguri-based private builder to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre plot of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.

The army had ordered a court of inquiry into the Sukna land scam in late 2008, following which former army chief General Deepak Kapoor decided to take minor administrative action as punishment to these officers in early 2009.

Three other officers also face charges along with Rath. One of them, Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, is the most senior of the four and also faces a court martial.

Gen Rath's sentence will have to be confirmed by the army chief and the ministry of defence. He can also appeal against the order in an army tribunal or the Supreme Court.