A magisterial court here on Saturday transferred the defamation complaint filed by Lieutenant General (retd.) Tejinder Singh against the Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, and four other senior Army officers back to a higher court. The court was upset at the “lack of confidence” that the retired Army officer's lawyer exhibited in it during the course of hearings.

On May 3, Lt. General Singh's counsel, Anil K. Aggarwal, had moved an application objecting to the court's April 26 order that “material clarifications are required.” This application said the accused, in their replies to the legal notice that Lt. General Singh had sent, stated that they were willing to come to court and place evidence in their defence.

“Therefore there was no occasion for the presiding officer to go into the detailed inquiry at the pre-summoning stage. Since all material clarifications sought have already been provided, the order dated April 26 needs to be corrected to that extent,” the application said.

In his order, Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar said: “The learned counsel for complainant appears to have lost confidence in the courts of law and legal procedure. In my considered view, vide this application [of May 3], counsel Anil K. Aggarwal has exhibited lack of confidence in the court and the manner in which he had tried to dictate to this court as to what is required to be mentioned in the preceding order-sheets and as to what type of inquiries this court has to make reflects his lack of faith in this court.

“Hence, under these circumstances, I do not want to proceed further with the trial in the present complaint. Let the matter be placed before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate-01 with request to pass further orders in this regard on May 7.

“The tone and tenor of this application reflects an apparent attempt to overreach, browbeat and pressurise this court into falling in line with the dictates of the counsel for complainant. It seems that counsel on each and every date in this case, taking advantage of the wide media coverage the matter is receiving, has been repeatedly pressuring this court for shorter dates…”

Mr. Kumar said that while Article 21 undoubtedly granted every citizen a right against attack on his/her reputation, this did not mean that this matter would receive precedence over other priority cases. He said the category of pending priority cases that the courts were required to address include old cases, matters involving persons in judicial custody, and matters involving crimes against women, children and senior citizens.

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