A lieutenant general indicted by an Army court in the Sukna land scam in West Bengal has been put under “open arrest” since last Tuesday. This means restriction on his movement and activities until his trial is completed. Lt Gen P.K. Rath’s trial is a first for a three-star general allegedly involved in a scam.
The “open arrest” came 24 hours before Rath appeared at the general court martial (GCM) in Shillong, which his counsel S.S. Pandey said was uncalled for since “he cannot be treated as guilty before the trial is over”.
According to Pandey, Rath was not avoiding trial and was cooperating at every step. He charged the authorities of flouting an army rule to belittle the lieutenant general by entrusting the court of inquiry to officers junior in rank. “The trial shouldn’t have been ordered as the summary of evidence against Lt Gen (retd) Avdesh Prakash (also involved in the case) is on at the Army’s Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata,” he said.
Rath’s counsel, in his submission before presiding officer Lt Gen I.J. Singh, also said certain documents pertaining to the case were forged. The trial, rescheduled for Friday afternoon, was inconclusive.