Guwahati, Dec 3 (IANS): Former military secretary Lt Gen (retired) Avadesh Prakash was dismissed from service by an Indian Army court martial for his involvement in a land scam at Sukna military station in West Bengal in 2008.
He is the seniormost lieutenant general of the army to have faced such stringent disciplinary action till date, and the second to be found guilty in the case by an army court martial.
"The army court found Lt.Gen. (retd) Avadesh Prakash guilty in three of the four charges (against him). He has been dismissed from service and would be deprived of pension and other benefits, besides losing his rank and other decorations," army spokesperson SS Phogat said.
The court martial was held at the 51 sub-area army military station in Narengi on the outskirts of Assam's main city of Guwahati. Headed by Lt.Gen.Philip Campose, it had completed the trial Friday and found Avadesh Prakash guilty on three counts, including intent to defraud and conduct unbecoming of an officer, army sources told IANS. He was, however, acquitted on the charge of pecuniary gains (corruption).
The dismissal from service with retrospective effect would mean Lt.Gen. Avadesh Prakash will lose his rank and will be cashiered from service. A retired officer of the Indian Army can be court martialled for offences committed while in service up to three years from his or her superannuation. Avadesh Prakash retired from service Jan 31, 2010.
The scam involves transfer of 71 acres of land adjacent to Sukna military station in West Bengal to a private trust on the pretext of construction of an educational institution there.
The army had in January this year punished another senior officer and former 33 Corps Commander, Lt Gen PK Rath, in the same case and had awarded punishment involving loss of seniority and some part of his pension.
Both Avadesh Prakash and Rath had been earlier indicted by a court of inquiry constituted by the army in 2010.
The scam dates back to 2008 when the alleged move to transfer the land in Siliguri district of West Bengal to a private educational trust came out in the open, leading to the army initiating the disciplinary proceedings against senior army officials, including Avadesh Prakash and Rath.
Though the then army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor wanted to let off Avadesh Prakash lightly with just an administrative action, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had intervened and ordered his court martial.
Avadesh Prakash was then military secretary at the office of the army chief, Gen.Kapoor.