New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the dismissal of Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash from the Army for his alleged role in Sukna land scam, holding that punishment was disproportionate to one minor charge being proved against him.
Setting aside the dismissal of Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash and its upholding by the Armed Forces Tribunal, the bench of Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice M.R. Shah directed that he be paid all the retrial and pension benefits from the date of retirement.
The court gave the Army three months to clear all the dues of Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash.
The inquiry involving Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash and Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath in the Sukna land scam case was ordered by the then Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh (Retd), who is now the Minister of State for External Affairs. The AFT had early quashed the court marshal of Lt. Gen. Rath in 2014.
Setting aside the AFT’s decision, Justice Sikri described as its order “contradictory,” saying as on the one hand the tribunal upheld the decision of dismissal, but at the same time awarded the grant of pension from the date of its order.
Noting that the General Court Marshal while not holding Lt Gen. Avadesh Prakash guilty of the main charge, had said that three other charges, which were minor in nature, stand proved against him.
However, two of the three charges were quashed by the AFT.
Holding that dismissal of Avadesh Prakash on the basis of his found guilty of a minor charge was “disproportionate”, Justice Sikri said it could not be used to erase the unblemished record of his 39-year service to the Army.
The court also held that the GCM that was constituted to inquire into charges against Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash was not in terms of the Army Act as it comprised one Lt. General and four Major Generals.
According to the statute, the GCM to inquire into the conduct of Lt. General should have comprised officers of his rank and not lower to his rank.