Army chief's action unjustified: Lt Gen Prakash

Gen Deepak Kapoor had not applied his mind before changing his decision, he says

PTI | February 25, 2010



Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, who faces charges in the Sukna land scam, has said that Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had not applied his mind before changing his decision to initiate court martial proceedings against him.

He also said the fresh court of inquiry ordered by the Armed Forces Tribunal would help bring out new facts and clear his role in the entire case.

"That is right," Prakash told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme in which he was asked whether Gen Kapoor had not applied his mind while initiating disciplinary action (court martial) in the case against him after initially ordering administrative action.

Prakash said the disciplinary action, initiated after Defence Minister A K Antony advised the Army Chief to change his decision against him, was in violation of an Adjutant General Branch's earlier directive that once an action has been set in motion, it can't be changed.

"It (AG's letter) says once the competent authority after having applied his mind to full facts of the case decides to initiate administrative action and such action has commenced, at this stage to revert to disciplinary action is not only unjustified but also legally unsustainable," Prakash said.

However, the AFT had in its ruling on February 22 rejected Prakash's contention in this regard saying the policy was only a general guidance and "not binding in nature.

Prakash said the COI report from Kolkata-based Eastern Command was received by the Army Chief on December 22-23 (2009) and the latter took three weeks to issue him a show cause notice on January 15 (2010).

"I gave my reply on January 22. On January 29, I was given a letter, which says that administrative action is cancelled and disciplinary action is to be constituted against me," he said.

Prakash said the Army Chief took only three days since his reply to the notice before changing administrative action to disciplinary action.

Also, the letter to initiate disciplinary action against him didn't mention his reply to the showcause notice, clearly indicating there was no application of mind to change the earlier decision, he added.

However, Prakash refused to comment when asked if the Army Chief had not told the "full truth" couple of weeks ago when he said that he had considered the former Military Secretary's reply before ordering disciplinary action.

Asked why did he not complain against the Army Chief's decision right after receiving the letter on January 29, he said, "I had no time to complain against the action as it was the day of 'Beating the Retreat' when all offices in North and South Blocks close down by 1300 hours and I was also being given farewell when I received this shocking letter."

The retired official said with the AFT giving him an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses in the fresh COI, it will help "put things in the correct perspective" and bring more issues to light.

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