Lt Gen Sahni First Gen-Level Officer to be Cashiered

Lt Gen Sahni First Gen-Level Officer to be Cashiered
Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sahni, who suffers the ignominy of becoming the first General-level officer to be cashiered and given imprisonment in a ration scam by a General Court Martial (GCM), will now have his fate decided by the Army chief.

Lt Gen Sahni, who was yesterday sentenced to three years RI and cashiered from service after being found guilty of irregularities in procurement of rations for troops in Jammu and Kashmir, was the first in the army's history to go on trial before a GCM in the rank of a General-level officer.

65-year-old Sahni of the Army Service Corps was found guilty of procuring sub-standard meat and other dry rations for troops deployed on the Siachen mountains and other high altitude areas in 2005.

Already retired from service, Lt Gen Sahni now faces the prospect of losing his terminal benefits like pension and gratuity besides the rank.

After the GCM report reaches Delhi, his case will go before the Army Chief for confirmation and thereafter to the Defence Minister.

In case, they confirm the conviction and sentence, Sahni can approach the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh for relief and may be the Supreme Court later.

He is the second General-level officer who has been punished by the GCM but his is the first case of such a senior official being cashiered and sentenced to imprisonment.

Recently, Lt Gen P K Rath faced severe reprimand and 15 years of loss of service for the purpose of pension by a GCM in the Sukna land scam.

Yesterday the GCM headed by Lt Gen Jatinder Pal Singh held Sahni, who was then the Director General of Supplies and Transport, guilty under six of the nine charges framed against him in what is known as the rations scam in the Army. Singh retired in 2006.

Sahni, who is under arrest for the last seven months since the GCM commenced, was also divested of the medals and stars. His plea for bail was rejected.

Cashiering from service would entail the withdrawal of all perks he enjoys as a retired officer of the Indian Army, including pension.

A Court of Inquiry constituted in 2005 had recommended disciplinary action against Sahni after indicting him in the case.

Among the charges for which Sahni was convicted was the intent to defraud in the procurement of rations.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had paved way for action against Sahni. The report revealed that soldiers were supplied wheat, rice, pulses and edible oil past their expiry date.

The auditor has also found a serious lack of competition in filing of tenders for the purchase of ration. In fact, it points out that a single vendor bagged contracts for more than 36 per cent of the purchases.

It also said that about-to-expire food items were bought at cheaper rates by contractors and then supplied to army units.

On July 10, 2010, the summary of evidence was completed; giving recommendations to continue disciplinary action against General Sahni and orders for general court martial were issued.

In this regard, a Court of Inquiry which was constituted in 2005 had recommended disciplinary action against him in connection with the case. After his retirement from Army in 2006, the inquiry was initiated.

Lt Gen S K Sahni is the first three-star General against whom the court martial was ordered by the Service, while Lt Gen Rath was punished first. His sentence is yet to be confirmed by the superior authorities.

Another Artillery Service Corps officer Lt Gen S K Dahiya was also indicted on corruption charges by an army Court of Inquiry (CoI). But he did not face a court martial and only administrative action was taken against him.

Another senior official, Lt Gen AK Nanda was accused of misbehaving with his Technical Secretary's wife. The army had ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the allegations.

After receiving the CoI recommendations, the army had "censored" both Nanda and his Technical secretary for their respective roles in the whole episode.

Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, who has been named in the Sukna land scam, is at the moment attached to the Eastern Army Command HQ in Kolkata. Disciplinary action was prescribed against him by the former Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor.

In a sexual harassment case, Major General A K Lal, who was commanding a division on the Sino-Indian border in Jammu and Kashmir, was found guilty by a court martial in 2008 on charges levelled against him by a captain serving under him.

Lal was dismissed from service and has now approached the Armed Forces Tribunal against the decision.

In early 2009, two major generals of the Army Ordnance Corps--Anand Swaroop and S.P. Sinha--faced separate charges of irregularities in the purchase of stores.

In 2006, Major General Gur Iqbal Singh Multani was dismissed from service and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for attempting to smuggle large quantities of liquor meant for army canteens to his hometown.

Multani, who last commanded the Bareilly-based 6 Mountain Division, was also stripped of his rank.

The list of officers facing charges of indiscipline and corruption include Major General B P S Mander, who was charged with irregularities in the procurement of dry rations.

Two other major generals--K.T.G. Nambiar and Rana Goswami--were also convicted of financial irregularities.
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