What is the case?
- The case is about a 71-acre civilian land, also called the Chumta tea, a tea estate adjacent to the military cantonment in Sukna in West Bengal.
- The military officers transferred the land to a private real estate developer on the pretext of building an educational institution.
- The land deal came light in mid-2008 when former Army chief Gen V K Singh was the Eastern Army Commander and had initiated the court of inquiry in the alleged land scam.
- The Army court found former military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash guilty in the case and ordered his dismissal from service.
Genesis of Sukna land scam
- The case dates back to 2008 when Avadesh Prakash was serving as military secretary to then Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor.
- The controversial land did not belong to the Army, but it was so close to the Sukna military station that it needed a no-objection certificate from the military authorities before it could be transferred by the West Bengal Government to private realtor.
- According to a court of inquiry, Avadesh Prakash was found guilty of influencing Lt Gen PK Rath, the 33 Corps Commander, in 2008 to get the Sukna military station officers to issue a NoC on the pretext that an educational institution will be built there.
- The Army in May, 2008 wrote to the West Bengal Government to acquire the said 71-acre land.
- When Avadesh Prakash visited Sukna military station on an official tour, he referred Dilip Aggarwal, a private realtor to Rath.
- In March 2009, the military station issued the NoC to Aggarwal.
- Later that year, the matter was brought to the notice of former Army chief who was General Officer Commanding-in Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Army's Eastern Command that time.
- Singh ordered the court of inquiry and later recommended the court martial against Army officers involved in the scam.
- In 2011, a court martial had found Rath guilty in the alleged scam for issuing a 'no-objection certificate' to the private builder.
- Appealing against the court-martial order, Rath took the matter forward to Armed Forces Tribunal.
The development in the case
- The Armed Forces Tribunal (ATC) on Friday quashed the court martial of Rath.
- AFT observed that the NoC violated no rules as the land did not belong to the Army.
- The Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the Army for "harassment and loss of honour" for Lt Gen Rath in the case.
- The Tribunal allowed Rath's petition in which he had alleged that Gen V K Singh had given "undue importance" to the case.
- In his petition, Rath said Singh had a "serious grudge" against the then military secretary Lt gen Avdesh Prakash over the issue of his date of birth.
- Rath said the verdict has vindicated his stand.
- VK Singh demanded that the Government should go for appeal against the military panel's judgement.