Sukna scam: Rath had ample opportunities to challenge CoI

Lt Gen P K Rath, being tried in the Sukna land scam, had "ample opportunities" to challenge proceedings during the Court of Inquiry (COI) and his pleas were earlier dismissed by the Delhi HC and the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 23:58 PM IST

Shillong: Lt Gen P K Rath, being tried in
the Sukna land scam, had "ample opportunities" to challenge
proceedings during the Court of Inquiry (COI) and his pleas
were earlier dismissed by the Delhi High Court and the Armed
Forces Tribunal, the prosecution told the General Court
Martial today.

"The accused had filed petitions in the Delhi High Court
in February and Armed Forces Tribunal in March last raising
the same issues he has submitted in the GCM. Both his
petitions were dismissed. However, this fact had no mention in
the submission made before the GCM," prosecution lawyer
Raghavendra Jha told the GCM.

Accusing Rath of `suppressing facts`, the Prosecution
lawyer said that during the COI, Rath had ample opportunities
to challenge the proceedings, which, he did not avail.

"He had opportunities to cross-examine the witnesses
during the COI. But he did not challenge the proceedings at
the appropriate time. Ignorance of law cannot be an excuse,"
the Prosecution said.

Rath had pleaded that Army Chief Gen V K Singh should be
summoned as a witness, arguing that he was subjected to
`biased` action aimed at preventing him from becoming the
Deputy Chief of Army Staff.

In his submission before the GCM, Rath contended that
there were various discrepancies in the case and the Court of
Inquiry (COI), on the basis of which the Court Martial was
ordered against him, had been convened because of `evil
design`. Jha argued that the `jurisdiction of the GCM is not
touched due to the violation, if any, of the factual aspects`.

"All legal aspects have been complied with," the
Prosecution said while submitting relevant documents.

On the change of judge advocate before the commencement
of the GCM, the prosecution said, "It was an administrative
decision which cannot be challenged. It is irrelevant and
cannot affect the case".

Rath had also submitted that as the Summary of Evidence
(SOE) against Lt Gen (retd) Avdesh Prakash in the case is
continuing at Army`s Eastern Command Headquarters in Kolkata,
the authorities should have waited before ordering the trial.

To this, prosecution said the authorities have power
to conduct separate as well as joint trials.

The Prosecution pleaded that Rath`s submission, including
that of summoning the Army chief, may be rejected because it
was "vague".

Rath, the former Commander of West Bengal-based 33 Corps,
is being tried for granting NoC for construction of an
educational institute on a piece of 70 acre land adjacent to
Sukna Army base. He is among three Lt Generals and a Major
General to be indicted by the CoI.

PTI