First Indian General to be jailed

INDIAN Army authorities at the 11 Corps have put a former top General under formal arrest after he was convicted of professional misconduct and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment by a General Court Martial (GCM) in a multi-million ration scam in Jalandhar cantonment city. Lieutenant General SK Sahni, who had been under custody of the army authorities ever since the GCM started against him August last year, is the highest ranking Indian army officer ever to be sentenced and arrested. The officer has been accused of allowing the purchase of expired rations for troops during his tenure as Director-General of the Army Service Corps (ASC). He was also accused of reversing the tendering process for procurement of pulses, overlooking recommendations of stock sampling, failing to ensure timely completion of supply contracts and over-looking other procedural formalities .The former top general was also cashiered by the GCM which held him guilty on six counts of professional impropriety, intent to defraud (the army) and acts prejudicial to military discipline. The GCM’s order of cashiering would mean stopping of retirement benefits, including pension and gratuity, to him. Sahni, who retired in 2006 and was facing corruption charges and allegations of gross irregularities in the ration scam that hit the army in 2005, was the most senior army officer to be facing a GCM. In early 2007, Sahni, who was from the ASC and served as Director-General for supplies and transport, was indicted by a probe by the army authorities for allegedly supplying sub-standard meat and dry rations to troops stationed at high altitude areas, including the highest battle-field in the world, at Siachen glacier. The ex-general was under virtual house arrest since August last year. He had got himself admitted to the military hospital soon after the GCM commenced against him and he was taken into custody. He was attached with the 11 Corps at Jalandhar after a court of inquiry (CoI) found him guilty of the charges levelled against him.

Sahni’s conviction and sentencing comes just weeks after another top Army officer, Lieutenant General PK Rath, was convicted in a land scam by a court martial last month. In 2009, two Major Generals of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps – Anand Swaroop and SP Sinha – faced charges of irregularities in the purchase of food. Both were in contention for the top post of Director General of Ordnance Services at Army HQ. In 2007, Lieutenant General of the ASC – SK Dahiya – was indicted in procurement of frozen meat for troops posted in Ladakh. Later, Dahiya, who was found guilty, had to retire from service after the army’s Northern Commander awarded him a recordable censure. 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 was also stripped of his rank. In January 2011, Lieutenant General PK Rath became the first serving Indian army General to be convicted. Rath was found guilty in a scam in which an NOC was issued to a private realtor to transfer a 70-acre plot of land adjacent to West Bengal’s Sukna military station. Former Military Secretary Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash was also convicted for complicity in the same crime. The CBI has filed a charge sheet against four now retired Indian army officers for approving the purchase of poor quality aluminium caskets from the US at “exorbitant rates” after the Kargil War. Colonel HS Kohli was cashiered in 2004 after a court martial found him guilty of faking terrorists’ killings by photographing the “victims”—played by his own troops—splashed with tomato ketchup to look like blood. Several Indian Army officers allegedly colluded with politicians and bureaucrats to usurp flats meant for war widows and defence veterans. Several retired and serving Army and Navy officers are on CBI’s radar – Dailymailnews