Enquiry initiated, file summoned

Stating that there was not enough evidence to “draw any positive or negative inference” on the question of summoning Army Chief General V.K. Singh as an accused in the criminal defamation complaint filed by Lieutenant-General (retired) Tejinder Singh, a magistrate here has initiated an enquiry and issued summons to the Defence Ministry to produce before it the file regarding the controversial March 5 press release that raised several allegations against the retired officer.

Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja wrote in his order: “The only important questions that now survive before this court are whether the respondents No:1 (Army Chief General V.K. Singh), No:2 (Vice-Chief Lt.-Gen. S. K. Singh), No:3 (Lt.-Gen. B.S. Thakur) had any complicity in the publication of the press release and whether the press release was issued in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy hatched by the respondents for defaming the complainant. I find at this stage — on the basis of the evidence available — this court cannot draw any positive or negative inference and it would be appropriate for the court to postpone the issuance of process and hold an enquiry as per Section 202 of the Cr.PC.”

Directing that the file be produced on June 6, the court asked the Secretary, Ministry of Defence, to summon the file from the Army Headquarters if it was not in the possession of the Ministry.

The magistrate noted that the replies filed by the fourth and fifth respondents Major-General S. L. Narasimhan and Lt.-Col. Hitten Sawhney to the legal notice issued by Lt.-Gen. Tejinder Singh was “sufficient to draw a prima facie interference that they were involved in the publication of the press release dated March 5, 2012.” Mr. Thareja said that in their replies, the two officers “categorically admitted that they had forwarded the press release” and that “during trial they would have to establish that the views expressed in the press release” were not their own and that in bona fide discharge of official duties they had forwarded the press release.

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