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Centre wants Army to probe land scam

Source: PTI
December 01, 2009 14:05 IST
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With two top Army generals being indicted by a Court of Inquiry (COI) for their role in a land scam in Darjeeling, the Centre on Tuesday said it had asked the Army to look into the matter and take "appropriate decisions."

"Whenever there is irregularity in any procedure or any of the functioning, the service looks into the matter and take appropriate steps. The ministry had directed the Army to look into the matter and they will take appropriate decisions," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters in New Delhi.

An Army Court of Inquiry (COI) headed by Tezpur-based 4 Corps Commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik has indicted Military  Secretary Lt Gen Awadhesh Prakash and Lt Gen P K Rath for their role in issuing a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to a private establishment that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of the famed Ajmer-based Mayo College.

Lt Gen Prakash is one of the top eight Generals in the headquarters acting as advisor to Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and is responsible for promotions and postings of officers.

Lt Gen Rath was all set to go to the Army headquarters as deputy chief but his posting has been kept in abeyance pending the probe.

The Army COI in Kolkata probed allegations that some Generals and other senior officers had issued an NOC to the private institution that bought the land adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling a few years ago.

The Army headquarters is now awaiting the inquiry report to order summary of evidence against those found culpable in the land fraud, sources said.

Lt Gen Prakash's name cropped up in the land fraud probe after it was found mentioned in the brochure of Dilip Aggarwal Geetanjali Education Trust, which had bought the land by misusing the NOC.

The trust had claimed that Lt Gen Prakash would join the trust as a director soon after his retirement.

Prakash, the COI found, had also lobbied for the private institution, apart from meeting its officials at his official residence in Delhi, according to the sources.

Lt Gen Prakash had served in the area about four years ago before taking over as the MS at the Army headquarters here.
Apart from the two senior Lt Gens, 11 Corps Commander Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali's name too figures in the land scam.

Defence Minister A K Antony had ordered a probe into the allegations. The Army had initially refused an NOC for selling the land adjacent to the Sukna military station but the decision was reportedly reversed by the senior officers.

An NOC is mandatory for sale of land adjacent to military stations due to security reasons. The Army inquiry would also look into documents relating to the NOC being forged and the original documents rejecting the NOC being replaced with forged papers in the Army records.

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