India army court convicts general over Sukhna land scam


An army court in India has found a senior officer guilty of involvement in an illegal land deal, officials say.

Lt Gen PK Rath is the highest ranking serving officer ever to be convicted in a court martial in India.

The court found him guilty on three counts but cleared him on four others. Sentencing is due on Sunday.

Gen Rath gave approval to a builder to develop cut-price land near an army base, the court martial found. Three other officers also face charges.

One of them, Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, is the most senior of the four and also faces a court martial, the Press Trust of India reported. The other two face "administrative action", the agency said.

It added that lieutenant generals had been court-martialled in India before, but only after they had retired.

The Sukhna land scam case came to light in 2008. Gens Prakash and Rath were accused of favouring a private builder based in the town of Siliguri in West Bengal state.

Gen Rath's court martial began in September last year.

On Friday, the army court found him guilty of approving the construction of a school near military land, signing an agreement with a builder and not informing the command headquarters about his decisions.

The sentence will have to be confirmed by the army chief and the ministry of defence.

Gen Rath can also appeal against the order in an army tribunal or India's Supreme Court.

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