Breaking his silence on the Sukna land scam, retired Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash has challenged the Army’s charges that he misused his position to swing a deal in favour of a businessman considered close to him.
“I know there was no scam,” the general told Hindustan Times . “The Army didn’t own the land and it didn’t give any NoC.”
“There were no kickbacks.”
He added, “Where is the question of influencing officers of the same rank? It’s not done.”
An Army Court of Inquiry had indicted Prakash in December for using his position of authority to pressure the staff of 33 Corps based in Sukna, West Bengal, including its chief Lt Gen P.K. Rath, to facilitate the transfer of the land in question to his family friend.
“Rath was not my junior,” the general said, adding, “Both of us were lieutenant generals; 33 Corps wasn’t under my chain of command. I had no authority to pressure anyone.”
Army chief Gen Deepak Kapo-or ordered Prakash’s court martial on January 29 under pressure from the defence ministry.
Army chief-designate Lt Gen VK Singh, as Eastern Army Commander, had recommended that Prakash be sacked.
But Gen Kapoor only served him a show cause notice for administrative action. Defence minister A.K. Antony later overruled Kapoor.
Prakash moved the Armed Forces Tribunal on Wednesday for a stay on disciplinary proceedings against him.
“I am very cool and composed,” he said.
Was he a victim of rivalry in the military’s top leadership? “I don’t know, I had no personal rivalries with anyone, nor any malice,” he said.
He refused to elaborate as the matter was in court.