Rubbishes allegations against him in March 5 press release
Retired Lieutenant-General Tejinder Singh testified before a court here on Tuesday as part of giving pre-summoning evidence in his criminal defamation complaint against Army Chief General V.K. Singh and four other serving senior Army officers.
Taking exception to the contents of a March 5 Army press release, he said: “The allegation was that I had offered bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd, which supplies vehicles to BEML. This allegation is absolutely false, unfounded and fabricated. I deny the same.”
The other officers named co-accused in the complaint are Vice-Chief of the Army Staff Lt.-Gen. S.K. Singh, Director of General Military Intelligence Lt.-Gen. B. S. Thakur, Additional Director-General of Public Information in the Army Headquarters Maj.-Gen. S. L. Narasimhan and another officer in the Public Information Department Lt. Col. Hitten Sawhney.
Lt.-Gen. Tejinder Singh alleged that these four officers formed an upward chain of command in issuing the press release and that the ultimate authority to whom they reported was Gen. V.K. Singh. He said the news reports based on the press release that appeared in major newspapers left him “absolutely devastated,” destroyed his reputation, and that he “became a suspect in the eyes of the entire nation.”
After recording the statements of Lt.-Gen. Singh and three other witnesses, Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar listed the matter for April 21 to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to summon the five Army officers.
Referring to Defence Minister A.K. Antony's statement in Parliament that the Army Chief had told him about the bribe offer about 18 months ago, counsel for the complainant Anil K. Aggarwal said his client was unwarrantedly named in the press release without any “legal action” being taken. “Without taking any legal action, how can he [Army Chief] take my name to the media in such a serious issue?”
Counsel told the court that before bringing the complaint to court, legal notices were sent to the five Army officers, and they had filed separate replies. “The accused have stated that they are ready to face trial and to substantiate allegations against me in court.”
Lt. Gen. Singh alleged that the press release was issued to “divert attention” from the “adverse publicity” the Army Headquarters and Gen. Singh were receiving due to media reports about alleged phone interception by the Army. Further, he alleged the press release was issued in contravention of rules framed by Parliament for the Army.
He also rubbished other allegations in the press release — that he had put out fictitious stories in the media on the alleged mobile interception; and that he had been questioned for purchasing an “off-the-air” monitoring system without sanction from the competent authority.