By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Lieutenant General Prashant Kumar Rath’s legal counsel SS Pandey on Monday strongly criticized the revision order of General Officer Commander-in-Chief Eastern Command Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh on the Sukna land scam.
In his revision order 17 June 2011, the GOC-in-C Eastern Command ordered the GCM which reassemble here to reconsider the first charge – intend to defraud – of which Rath was acquitted.
“The revision order is based on conjecture, suspicion and doubts which law does not permit to take into account to fix the criminal liability of a person,” Pandey said in his submission before the reassembled General Court Martial (GCM) at the 58 Gorkha Training Centre here. The reassembled court martial, comprises five senior lieutenant generals and headed by Lt. Gen. I.P. Singh.
Earlier this year, the GCM had charged Rath with intent to defraud the Army by issuing a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to a private realtor to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military station.
Rath’s legal counsel said the earlier findings of the GCM against Rath of not being guilty on the first charge were based on evidence available on records which the GCM had considered in its entirety.
He further argued that the revision order was totality based on summarises, doubts and conjecture without any evidence to support such observation made in the revision.
Defending the revision order, prosecution counsel Raghavendra Jha, reiterated his stand in respect of the first charge on the basis of evidence on record and the detailed observation made by GOC-in-C Eastern Command. ”If the conforming authority (Bikram Singh) while examining the evidence forms an opinion that the findings on particulars charges is perverse in that case, the conforming authority has the power to order the reconsideration of the findings in light of the observations made by him,” Jha told the GCM.
In January, the GCM against Rath, the first serving lieutenant general to be found guilty, recommended taking “off the rank and the precedence of appointment” with substantive effect from May 24, 2010.
Rath is the senior most serving general to be hauled up for indiscipline. The sentence is expected in a couple of days from now.
Another senior officer, Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash, who was the military secretary when General Deepak Kapoor was the army chief and has now retired, is also expected to soon face a court martial in the case. The order for Prakash’s court martial was issued by Kapoor before his retirement in March 2010.