Sukna case: pension cut for Rath
Lt Gen PK Rath, convicted in the Sukna land scam on Friday, will continue to hold his three-star rank, but will lose service seniority and take home the pension of a colonel when he retires in February next year.
A military court on Saturday reduced Rath’s seniority by 15 years for the purpose of fixing his pension and service seniority by 18 months, besides a severe reprimand.
Rath — the senior-most serving Indian Army officer to be convicted in a court martial — will get a pension of R48,000 a month compared to the Rs 58,000 a lieutenant general takes home.
The General Court Martial, convened in Shillong on Friday, found Rath guilty of striking a deal with a realtor, Dilip Agarwal, for facilitating the transfer of 71 acres of land next to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.
Rath was found guilty of issuing a no-objection certificate and illegally signing a memorandum of understanding with the realtor, keeping his superiors in the dark.
But four charges of fraud against him could not be established. Rath was a former commander of the Sukna station in north Bengal.
But a former judge advocate general — chief of the army’s legal branch — said on condition of anonymity: “Rath has been let off lightly. The offences he has been convicted for involve moral turpitude. He could have been dismissed.”
Rath’s sentence will now have to be confirmed by the army chief and if the punishment is found inadequate, the court may be asked to review its decision.
Rath’s conviction has also paved the way for former military secretary Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash’s court martial. A court of inquiry into the Sukna scam had indicted Prakash, too, in December 2009.
Prakash was accused of furthering the interests of Agarwal and influencing Rath to swing the deal in the realtor's favour.