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Sukna scam: Tribunal turns down Lt Gen Prakash’s plea

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NEW DELHI: The Armed Forces Tribunal today turned down former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash’s plea to allow his realtor friend as a witness in the reconvened Court of Inquiry (CoI) in the Sukna land scam case. “Calling prosecution witness as defence witness is uncalled for. Prosecution witness cannot be juxtaposed as defence witness,” the Tribunal bench headed by Justice S S Kulshreshtha said here.

Lt Gen Prakash, who has been indicted by a CoI in the Sukna land scam, had approached the Tribunal on Wednesday to allow him to produce the witnesses before the reconvened CoI in the case. Prakash had filed a plea seeking permission to produce as witness his realtor friend Dilip Agarwal, who is alleged to have benefited by the ‘No Objection Certificate’ issued by the Army for construction of an educational institute on a piece of land adjacent to the Sukna Base in West Bengal. The Army counsel had opposed the petition, saying that Agarwal had already appeared before the CoI and could not be produced as a defence witness again.

Army’s COI had blamed Prakash for influencing the former 33 Corps Commander Lt Gen P K Rath for issuing the NoC. After hearing both sides, the Tribunal Bench had reserved its order till the next hearing. After his retirement on January 31, Prakash had approached the Tribunal against Army’s decision to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him and contended that Army Rule 180, which allows Army personnel to be present if somebody is raising questions over their military character, was not applied.