The armed forces tribunal on Thursday refused relief to retired military secretary Lt Gen. Avadhesh Prakash facing charges of misusing his position to swing a land deal in favour of a businessman "friend".
"An unblemished record of 39 years of service in army does not make you a holy cow," the tribunal said in response to Prakash's claim of flawless service record.
Prakash has challenged the disciplinary action announced against him for his alleged involvement in the Sukna land scam. The tribunal, headed by Justice A.K. Mathur, declined him an urgent hearing even as his counsel, Jyoti Singh, claimed that the officer was falsely implicated. The matter will now be heard on Friday.
Prakash, who retired from service on January 31, approached the tribunal, seeking a stay on the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him. The verdict of the newly established tribunal, with the powers of a high court, can only be challenged in the Supreme Court.
An army court of inquiry had indicted Prakash in December for using his position to pressure the staff of 33 Corps based in Sukna, West Bengal, to facilitate the transfer of a piece of land to his family friend.
His counsel objected to Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor’s decision to change an administrative action against Prakash to a disciplinary action and issuing court martial orders.
An administrative action can be in form of a warning, a severe reprimand or dismissal. A court martial can lead to imprisonment and officer being cashiered from service, which means a loss of rank, decorations and pension benefits.
“Why can’t chief change his opinion? He must have observed something wrong,” Justice Mathur said.