The Sukhna land scam allegedly involving four Army Generals, including former military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, on Thursday came under sharp attack from a Parliamentary panel which strongly recommended setting up of "an independent regulator" by the Defence Ministry to manage its estates.
"The committee is of the strong view that land scams such as Sukhna land scam affect the image of Army and the defence services as a whole and as such it is utmost necessary that the country should have the fool-proof system to regulate the defence estates," the Parliamentary Committee on Defence said in its latest report tabled in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The Defence Ministry, however, has conveyed to the committee that there was no need for a separate regulator in view of adequate existing system within the ministry.
But the committee, headed by Congress member Satpal Maharaj, recommended that "their suggestion of having an independent regulator should be considered by the (Defence) Ministry positively" and it be apprised accordingly about the action taken in this regard.
The committee was referring to the recent controversies regarding the use of defence land reported by the media including the Sukhna land scam, which involved issuance of a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the Army officers for setting up an educational institution at the military base in Darjeeling district.
Other officers allegedly involved in the scam were Lt Gen PK Rath, whose appointment as the Deputy Chief of the Army was scrapped following the unearthing of the scam, 11 Corps commander Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major General PC Sen.
The Army has ordered disciplinary proceedings in the form of court martial against Prakash and Rath, while the other officers would face administrative action.
Prakash's plea -- first in the Armed Forces Tribunal and later in the Supreme Court -- for scrapping of the court martial proceedings on the ground that the inquiry into the scam did not follow procedures was not accepted by the tribunal or the apex court.
Referring to the Defence Ministry's view that there was no need for a separate regulator, the committee said, "In spite of internal mechanism to regulate defence estates, such (Sukhna land scam) incidents are happening."