VK Singh
Army Forces Tribunal said VK Singh wanted to take revenge from the then military secretary who cut short his tenure as Army Chief.Reuters File

Quashing Lt General P. K. Rath's court martial on Friday, the Armed Forces Tribunal said that Union Minister V. K. Singh had conducted an inquiry against Rath to take revenge on the then Military Secretary, because of whom he had to leave his Army Chief post eight months in advance.

The then Military Secretary Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash made Singh to commit that his year of birth is 1950 and not 1951, because of which Singh had to retire from the Army Chief post, eight months prior to his scheduled retirement.

The Tribunal pointed out that as Singh lost the opportunity to become the Vice Chief of Army Staff due to the date of birth issue, it "resulted in a vengeance in the mind of Respondent No. 2 (GEN Singh) for which he held the then Military Secretary responsible and was looking for an opportunity to get even," according to NDTV report.

Around mid-2008, Singh initiated an inquiry against Rath, for issuing a "no-objection certificate" to a private builder allowing him to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre land adjacent to Sukna's military cantonment in West Bengal.

The inquiry was based on the claims that the aforesaid permission violated the rules and it was a threat for the Army. Following the inquiry, a military court had, in 2011, found Rath guilty and ordered his court martial along with Prakash's.

Later, Rath filed a petition claiming that Singh gave "undue importance" to the Sukna land deal case as he held "serious grudge" against Prakash. After hearing Rath's petition, Tribunal acquitted him and found that Singh violated rules and "influenced and vitiated" the trial to take revenge.

"The petitioner is acquitted of all charges. He is entitled to restoration of all benefits with 12% interest," Justice Sunil Hali said while imposing a fine of ₹1 lakh on the Army for causing "undue harassment and loss of reputation" to Gen Rath, reported Hindustan Times.

Dismissing the Army's allegations that the construction of educational building is a threat to its safety, the Tribunal said that "every activity of civilian nature adjacent to the Sukna station is a security threat that cannot be accepted."