Tatra Sipox (U.K.) Ltd, the company whose Tatra off-road vehicles are extensively used by the Army and is now in the eye of a storm over alleged bribery allegations, has written to the Defence Secretary seeking his sanction to take appropriate legal action against the Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, on grounds of “slander, libel and defamation.”

Though Gen. Singh, in an interview to The Hindu, had not mentioned by name either the Tatra vehicle, the name of the person who attempted to offer him a bribe of Rs. 14 crore to clear an order to buy 600 “substandard” vehicles, or the company the bribe giver represented, it has been widely assumed that the vehicle is Tatra, the official is Lt. Gen. (retd.) Tejinder Singh, and that he was doing so on behalf of Tatra Sipox. However, a press release issued by the Army did mention Lt. Gen. (retd.) Tejinder Singh's name as the person who made the bribe offer to the Army Chief.

Lt. Gen. (retd.) Tejinder has since denied that he offered the Army Chief a bribe.

“Unfounded allegations”

In a letter addressed to the Defence Secretary, Shashi Kant Sharma, Tatra Sipox claimed that Gen. Singh's defamatory and “false and unfounded allegations” caused deep harm to Tatra's reputation. The letter also states that Tatra, which supplies trucks to BEML under licence, has “no reason or occasion to have to approach Gen. V.K. Singh.”

Terming Gen. Singh's allegations accusing the company of bribery and corruption false and “unfounded,” Tatra Sipox stated that their reputation had not only been lowered in the eyes of right thinking citizens of this country but also other companies, associates of the defence industry, [their] customers and clientele base both in India as well as the 38 countries whose defence needs are served by Tatra.”

The letter also states that Gen. Singh's allegations would adversely affect Tatra's “present and future commercial interests.” Stating that “till date there has not been [a] single formal complaint as regards the standards of the Tatra truck” supplied by Tatra Sipox, “or any discrepancy in the supply thereof,” the letter adds that Tatra Sipox adhered to provisions of the defence procurement manual.

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