Several days before he met V.K. Singh, Army chief initiated enquiry into vehicle needs
Lieutenant General (retired) Tejinder Singh has been booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly offering a bribe to the then Army chief V. K. Singh on behalf of a private supplier in 2010 for clearance of a proposal for procurement of 1,676 high mobility Tatra vehicles. Searches were conducted at seven places in Delhi and Mumbai on Saturday.
The CBI registered the case against him under Section 12 (abetment) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, about six months after a preliminary enquiry was initiated into a complaint lodged by General V.K. Singh that he had been offered a bribe of Rs.14 crore to clear the pending proposal.
According to CBI sources, the enquiry was converted into a formal case after enough evidence corroborating his allegations was collated. “A probe into the movement of related files revealed that several days before Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh met General V.K. Singh on September 22, 2010 and allegedly offered a bribe to secure his approval, the Army chief had initiated an enquiry into the actual requirement of vehicles as he suspected that the proposed number [1,676] was an inflated figure,” said a CBI officer. The proposal for procurement on a “repeat order” basis had been made through the Master General of Ordnance’s Branch of the Army.
What triggered suspicion
Also in view of the recommendation for further procurements through the “multivendor route,” the sources said, the then Army chief carefully examined the matter. CBI investigations revealed that he sought reports from various formations on actual requirements, “which turned out to be much below the proposed number of vehicles to be purchased — just a few hundreds.”
This caused suspicion in General V.K. Singh’s mind and days later, the bribe offer was allegedly made to him. “This confirmed his suspicion and he finally decided not to approve the proposal,” said another officer.
Vectra chairman Ravi Rishi, who was also a director in Tatra Sipox U.K. that supplied the all-terrain vehicles to BEML for further supply to the Army, has also been named in the case. Agency sources said he would be examined by the CBI to ascertain his role in the alleged bribe offer. The CBI investigations have also indicated the role of a couple of businessmen who acted as middlemen on behalf of the supplier.
Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh, who had filed a defamation case against the former Army chief, was on Saturday quizzed by the CBI. He denied his involvement in the matter. The agency conducted searches on his premises, besides that of Vectra and its officials in Mumbai and Noida.
Mr. Rishi is an accused in another case of alleged irregularities in supply of the all-terrain Tatra trucks to the Army through BEML.