Senior officers trying to frame me up in Sukna scam: Rath



New Delhi: Lt Gen P K Rath, indicted in the Sukna land scam and facing a court martial, has alleged that his seniors in the Army were trying a "frame up", though he had "no relationship" with the private realtor to whom a No Objection Certificate was issued to buy the land.

Rath, in his petition before the Delhi High Court, also alleged that his superior officers had "already made up their mind to frame up", thereby vitiating the court of inquiry proceedings by sending a clear message to other officers connected with the probe.

Rath's seniors involved in the Sukna scam episode in Darjeeling are Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, who ordered action against him, Army Chief-designate Lt Gen V K Singh, who convened the court of inquiry in the case and also attached him to the Kolkata-based Eastern Command.

His plea to quash the court of inquiry and to be posted as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff that was scrapped following the Sukna scam probe, filed on Thursday, will come up for hearing tomorrow.

"It is an undisputed fact that the petitioner has no relationship of any kind whatsoever with the private party interested in establishment of educational institution (near Sukna military station)," Rath said in the petition papers.

"The superior officers had already made up their mind to frame up the petitioner. It also clearly vitiated the further proceedings of the court of inquiry and sent a clear cut message to the rest of the officers connected with it," he added.

Rath, who faces a court martial for his involvement in the Sukna land scam along with former military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, claimed that he had agreed to the proposal to start the educational institution "in good faith and purely on the merit of the case."

Rath said he had joined the 33 Corps as its General Officer Commanding on September 1, 2008, from Lt Gen Deepak Raj, under whose tenure another private tea estate owner had taken the same 71-acre land adjacent to Sukna cantonment on a long term lease from West Bengal government in 2006 to promote tea tourism.

Since tea tourism consisted of a resort, restaurant and a place for recreation resulting in free movement of civilian and tourists, the Army had objected to the project on security grounds and approached the State government to acquire the land by cancelling the lease of the private party.

After Rath took over, the Army's stand of objecting to transfer of the land for tea tourism by the private party on security grounds continued.

It was then that the Geetanjali Education Trust (of realtor Dalip Aggarwal) approached Rath, offering to establish an educational institution as a franchise of Mayo School in Ajmer.

"The private party also offered that reservation will be given to the children of the armed forces and the Army should ensure that security is not compromised," Rath said in the petition.

Rath said he strongly felt "this was a real opportunity to do something for the troops, beyond usual pep talks" after he discovered that 62 family quarters of the 250 in Sukna were vacant due to lack of educational facilities nearby.

PTI