Accuses them of criminal conspiracy to defame him

Lieutenant General (retd.) Tejinder Singh on Tuesday filed a complaint in the Patiala House District Courts here, accusing Army Chief General V.K. Singh, and four senior Army officers of criminal conspiracy to defame him.

Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh accused his former colleagues of issuing a press release on March 5 that alleged he was involved in spreading stories to the news media about mobile phones of top Defence Ministry officials being intercepted by the Army.

However, the Army Chief, in response to a legal notice issued by Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh's lawyer, said the Army had evidence to back the contents of the release and would produce it in court, if called for.

The other officers named by Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh are Vice-Chief of the Army Staff Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh, Director General of Military Intelligence Lt. Gen. B.S. Thakur; Additional Director-General of Public Information in the Army Headquarters Maj. Gen. S. L. Narasimhan and officer in the Public Information Department Lt. Col. Hitten Sawhney.

The complaint described the release as containing “ex-facie defamatory statements…which are entirely baseless, false and concocted.” The retired officer said the release was issued “unauthorised, at the behest, instructions, and/or orders of the Accused No:1 [the Army Chief],” despite the Defence Ministry having issued an official statement on March 2, clearing the Army of any role in the alleged bugging of the Defence Minister's office.

The complaint alleged that the release was issued without the Ministry's Directorate of Public Relations having been approached or the approval of the Additional Director-General (Media and Communication) having been obtained, a standard procedure.

The complaint filed under Sections 500 (defamation) and 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure), read with 120B (criminal conspiracy), of the Indian Penal Code, sought the summoning of all five officers to be tried for these said offences.

Only the first paragraph of the release was sufficient to clear the Army's name in the electronic interception allegation, Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh said, and the second paragraph, which named him as the source of the allegation, was included “at the behest of Accused No.1 in complicity with [the] other accused persons, with the … outright malicious intention to malign and smear the personal and public image, character, reputation and honour of the complainant.”

Further, he alleged that the Army Chief had “implanted, and is responsible for the contents” of, the first paragraph of a blog published on an English newspaper's website on February 1, 2012, “making [a] false allegation of corruption against the complainant.”

The complaint follows legal notices sent on behalf of the retired officer on March 12 to the five senior Army men. In response to the legal notice, the reply filed on behalf of Gen. V. K. Singh delved into the March 5 release that stated that “disciplinary and administrative action was in the pipeline.” This “action” was not against Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh, but was being taken against “some other disgruntled serving officers in the Military Intelligence.”

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