Six years after he was dismissed by General Courts Martial (GCM) for his role in Sukna land scam in West Bengal, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) granted pension to former military secretary Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash. The tribunal, however, upheld his conviction in the case.
An AFT bench in New Delhi granted pension to Lieutenant General Prakash in view of mitigating circumstances put forth by him in his petition and also in view of the unblemished service that he had till he was found guilty by the GCM in December 2011. However, he will be eligible for pension from the day of the judgement i.e. December 20, 2017.
Lt Gen Prakash had been serving as a military secretary in the Army headquarters when he was charged of misusing his position to ensure that a no-objection certificate (NOC) was issued by HQs 33 Corps in Sukna near Siliguri in West Bengal for 71 acres of land to a private person for constructing an educational institution. The inquiry against him had been ordered by the then Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh (retd), who is now the Minister of State for External Affairs.
Lt Gen Prakash had alleged that the action against him had been allegedly initiated by General VK Singh because he had been an impediment in letting him have his way for getting his date of birth amended for a longer tenure as Army chief. However, after the court of inquiry held him guilty in 2011, a GCM was conducted against him under Section 45 of the Army Act for “unbecoming conduct” of an Army officer and Section 52 which deals with the intent to defraud.
The trial sentenced him to dismissal from service which meant that Lt General Prakash was not entitled to pension or using his military title. The sentence was confirmed in May 2012 by the then Army chief General VK Singh, just before he retired from service. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General PK Rath, former 33 Corps Commander, had also been court martialled in the Sukna land scam case. His court martial, however, was quashed by the AFT in 2014.