Shillong: Former 33 corps commander Lt Gen PK Rath Tuesday questioned the validity of a revision order for the general court martial (GCM) to reconsider his acquittal on one charge in the Sukna land scam in West Bengal.
The revision order was issued by General Officer Commander-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Eastern Command Lt Gen Bikram Singh.
"The GOC-in-C is not the competent authority to issue the revision order as he cannot exercise the power of the chief of army staff under regulation of the Army," Rath`s counsel SS. Pandey said on the second day of the reassembled GCM at the 58 Gorkha Training Centre here.
Questioning the motive of GOC-in-C Singh in directing the GCM to revise its findings and the validity of the revision order, Pandey said: "The chief of army staff is the competent authority to issue such revision order against Army officers who hold the rank of a brigadier and above, as per the powers vested in him under Para 472 of the Indian Army regulations."
"How can a revision order be issued when a pre-confirmation application filed before the confirming authority (chief of army staff) is still pending on the matter," Rath`s counsel argued.
Defending the validity of the revision order, prosecution counsel Raghavendra Jha sought time from the GCM, which comprises five senior lieutenant generals and is headed by Lt. Gen IJ Singh.
In his June 17 revision order, GOC-in-C Singh ordered the GCM to reassemble to reconsider its finding of Rath being found not guilty on the first charge of intent to defraud the Army.
Rath had been charged 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 Sukna military station in Darjeeling district.
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 facing a court martial in the case.