Millennium Post

Court summons former army chief

A Patiala House court has summoned the former army chief Gen (retd) V K Singh and four serving army officers to appear before it in a defamation suit filed by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh in the matter of issuing a controversial press release on 5 March. The press release had alleged that Tejinder Singh had offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the former army chief.

This is the first time that a former army chief has been asked to appear before a court. If the defamation charge is proved, it can entail a maximum punishment of two years, or fine, or both.

The court has, however, made it clear that the summons are only for the alleged offence of defamation, as the allegation of hatching a criminal conspiracy appears to be 'absurd'. Tejinder Singh had also accused them of hatching a criminal conspiracy. The court directed them to appear before it on 20 July.

'After deliberating upon the submissions made by the advocate [for Tejinder Singh], perusing the evidence/material brought on record during the inquiry under Section 202 of the CrPC and studying the law, I find that now this court has sufficient material to proceed against all the respondents,' the court said.

The other four named in the complaint, who have been summoned, are the vice chief of army staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (DGMI), Major Gen S L Narshiman (additional director general of public information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney. They, including the former army chief, have been   accused of misusing their official positions, power and authority to level false charges against Tejinder Singh.

The metropolitan magistrate Jay Thareja said that all the five have been summoned as accused in the present matter and that complicity of Gen V K Singh in the issuance of 5 March press release, in which Tejinder Singh was accused of offering Rs 14 crore as bribe to the army chief for clearing a deal for 600 trucks, was prima facie deductible.

The court also referred to the 4 May 2012 letter issued by an under secretary of the Ministry of Defence, in which it was mentioned that the 5 March press release was issued with the approval from the 'highest levels in the army'.

Earlier, the court had said that it would hold an inquiry against V K Singh before passing any order on summoning him to the court.
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