Lieutenant General P K Rath, former commander of 33 Corps of the Army, withdrew his petition against his court martial in the Sukna land scam from the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
Giving reasons for the move, Rath's counsel Ajit K Singh said his client withdrew the petition as the Tribunal has already ordered reconvening of the court of inquiry in the case allowing Lieutenant General (retired) Avadesh Prakash, former Military Secretary, to cross examine six witnesses.
"During the COI and the cross-examination by Prakash, we will also get the opportunity to present our side. So, we will wait for the outcome of the COI and then take further decision," he told PTI. Asked if the reconvening of the COI would delay court martial proceedings against him also, Singh said, "Nothing can proceed until the COI is over as we are also part of it." He said if required, the petition can be filed again after the COI proceedings in the case are over.
Rath's petition in the Delhi High Court, in which he had contended that he had been singled out in the case and the "offence" against him had been "prejudged", was dismissed on jurisdiction issue earlier this month. Thereafter, he had moved to the principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi. Singh said the petition before the AFT was on the lines of the one filed by Rath in the Delhi High Court.
The Eastern Command, headed by Army Chief-designate Lieutenant General V K Singh, had initiated the COI against Rath after the Cabinet Committee of Appointments had approved Rath's elevation as deputy chief of army staff, Rath said in his petition.
The petition had said that the order to attach him to the Kolkata-based headquarters just before he could take over as the Army's deputy chief was "highly discriminatory, arbitrary and hence bad in law." "The attachment order has been passed with a malafide intention to stop the petitioner from joining the post as Deputy Chief of Army Staff ," he had claimed.
Rath, along with Prakash, is facing court martial in the case that relates to no objection certificate being given by the army to a private realtor to construct an educational institution on a 71-acre plot adjacent to Sukna military base in Darjeeling.