Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor Thursday went on the defensive over the land scam in Sukhna Cantonment in West Bengal involving his top generals, including Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash, though he agreed it had caused a “dent” in the army’s image.
During the annual press conference Thursday ahead of the 62nd Army Day Friday, the army chief faced a barrage of questions on the Sukhna land scam.
“I have received inputs in the case from the court of inquiry, the recommendations of the Eastern Army chief, and the legal advice of the Adjutant General of the Army Headquarters. A set of directions has been issued. As the disciplinary proceedings are on, it will not be proper for me to comment (on the case),” Gen. Kapoor told reporters here.
When a reporter asked him to explain the nature of the scam and the action being taken, Gen. Kapoor refused to answer.
When another reporter drew his attention to the increasing number of senior army officers being convicted on charges of corruption, the army chief dismissed these as “individual acts of misdemeanour”.
“The strength of the Indian Army is 1.1 million. But when something of this nature happens, the media delves into it. But when it happens on the civilian side, it does not get reported,” Gen. Kapoor retorted.
The army chief’s aide Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash, the current Military Secretary, has been found guilty by a court of inquiry of using his position to influence a no-objection certificate given by the chief of the 33 Corps in Sukhna, Lt. Gen P.K. Rath, to a private realtor.
The East Army Commander, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, who convened the inquiry, has recommended court martial of the two officers.
However, while the army chief has acceded to Gen. Rath’s court martial, he has ordered only disciplinary action against Gen. Prakash, who is slated to retire Jan 31.
Meanwhile, Gen. Prakash has been asked to proceed on leave.
The army’s court of inquiry submitted its report in the scam in December.
The army court has indicted the two officers for their role in issuing a no-objection certificate to a private establishment that falsely claimed to be setting up an affiliate of the well-known Ajmer-based Mayo College on a plot adjacent to the Sukhna military station in Darjeeling district.
Gen. Prakash is one of the eight Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) at the Army HQ who act as advisers to the army chief. As Military Secretary, Prakash is responsible for the promotions and postings of officers.
Gen. Rath was commander of the Sukhna-based 33 Corps when the alleged land scam took place.