The Supreme Court Friday dismissed former military secretary, Lt. Gen. (retd) Avadesh Prakash’s plea against launch of a fresh court of enquiry (CoI) against him to ascertain his role in the Sukna land scam.
A bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice M.K. Sharma dismissed Prakash’s plea, saying: ‘You are fighting a lost battle here.’
‘But you are a soldier and you can afford to fight,’ said the bench, making it clear that it was not setting aside the February order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which endorsed the army’s move to make him an accused in the Sukna land scam and allowed it to begin a fresh CoI against him.
Prakash was indicted for ‘using his position of authority to pressurise the staff of Headquarters 33 Corps and influencing Lt.Gen P.K. Rath, GOC’ to issue a no-objection certificate for transfer a 71-acre tea estate adjacent to the Sukna military station to a family friend and businessman Dilip Agarwal.
‘Yes, I will fight it till the last bullet,’ said the former army officer’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi, realising that the bench was in no mood to grant him any relief.
Rohatgi earlier argued before the court that the CoI against Prakash is being conducted by one officer of lt. general rank and two of major general rank.
He contended that the former military secretary being an officer of superior rank of lieutenant general, a junior officer of major general rank cannot participate in the CoI against him.
The bench rejected this contention, saying: ‘A case against a Supreme Court judge can be heard even by a high court judge or the trial court judge.’
Rohatgi also contended that even the last CoI report was in Prakash’s favour and launching a fresh CoI against him will not serve any purpose.
The bench remarked that it already knew that the report favoured Prakash, adding with one report already favouring him, he should not be afraid of facing another COI.
‘A CoI is after all a fact-finding exercise. A court martial would start only if a prima face case is made out against you,’ said the bench, adding that after all he would be examined only as a witness
At this, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh added: ‘Yes, we have made him only a witness.’