First general to go to jail

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 20.02.11

Jalandhar, Feb. 19 (PTI): The fate of retired Lt Gen. S.K. Sahni, the first officer of the rank of general to be cashiered and awarded a prison term, will now be decided by the army chief.

Sahni was yesterday sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and cashiered from service for irregularities in procurement of rations for troops in Jammu and Kashmir.

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

Sahni, since he has retired, cannot be sacked but could lose monetary benefits such as his pension and gratuity, besides his rank, medals and stars.

The general court martial report will now go to the army chief for confirmation and after that to the defence minister.

If they confirm the conviction and sentence, Sahni will be allowed to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh for relief and may be the Supreme Court later.

In January, Lt Gen. P.K. Rath faced severe reprimand and 15 years of his pension benefits were withdrawn by a general court martial after he was found guilty in a land scam in Sukna, north Bengal.

Yesterday, the general court martial headed by Lt Gen. Jatinder Pal Singh held Sahni guilty in six of nine charges framed against him.

Sahni had retired in 2006.

Sahni has been under arrest for the past seven months since the trial started.

His plea for bail has been rejected.

A report by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) that brought to light the ration scam had paved way for action against Sahni.

The report had revealed that soldiers were supplied wheat, rice, pulses and edible oil past their expiry date. The auditor had also found a lack of competition in filing of tenders for the purchase of ration.

The CAG report had pointed out that a single vendor had been bagging 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.

Another lieutenant general, S.K. Dahiya, was also indicted on corruption charges by an army court of inquiry. But only administrative action was taken against him.

Lieutenant general A.K. Nanda was accused of misbehaving with his technical secretary’s wife. A court of inquiry had recommended that the army “censure” him.