Army chief orders court martial of chief aide (Lead)

New Delhi, Jan 29 ( Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor Friday ordered a court martial of his chief advisor Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash for his involvement in a land scam in West Bengal’s Sukhna cantonment.

The army chief’s decision Friday comes two days after Defence Minister A.K. Antony advised him to take “disciplinary action” against Prakash.

“The army chief has ordered for a disciplinary action against Lt. Gen. Prakash and this leads to court martial,” an official said.

The defence ministry was informed of the army chief’s decision Friday. Prakash is due to retire on Jan 31.

Prakash, who as military secretary is responsible for the promotions and postings of army officers, will be among the army’s most senior officers to be court martialled on charges of corruption.

Antony’s recommendation Wednesday came after Kapoor directed administrative action against Prakash while another officer held guilty in the scam Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath was ordered to be court martialled.

Kapoor had submitted his action taken report in the scam to the defence ministry early this month.

Prakash, the current military secretary, was found guilty by a court of inquiry of using his position to influence the granting of a no-objection certificate by Rath — who was commander of 33 Corps in Sukhna — to a private realtor.

The Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, who convened the inquiry, had recommended court martial of the two officers.

Prakash was meanwhile asked to proceed on leave.

An army court had indicted the two officers for their role in issuing of 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.

Prakash is one of the eight Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) at the Army Headquarters and acts as adviser to the army chief.

Rath was the deputy army chief-designate but his appointment was cancelled after the scam was exposed.