Army Chief defamation case: Clarifications sought

A Delhi court sought clarification from former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, who had filed a criminal defamation case against Army Chief Gen V K Singh.

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday sought clarification from former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, who had filed a criminal defamation case against Army Chief Gen V K Singh and four others, as to what was the "independent roles" of the accused named by him in the entire case.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar, who was scheduled to pronounce the order today on the plea of Tejinder Singh, deferred it till May 5.

He asked Tejinder Singh`s counsel about the roles of the accused in issuing the March 5 press release. This release, Tejinder Singh alleged, was circulated with the sole intention to defame him.

"I need some material clarification. What is the independent role of the five accused? Are they signatory to it (the press release)?," the magistrate asked.

Advocate Anil Aggarwal, who appeared for Tejinder Singh, said that the Army Chief took his name in the media and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney, posted in the media cell and named as accused in the case, had signed the press release.

"This is a straight case. There is media prosecution going against me. If he (Army Chief) had some information about the bribe offer as he had said in the press release, instead of filing a complaint with the police or court, he took my name in the media.

"I am outside the government and how can I know what is going inside," he said.

Tejinder Singh, a former Director General of Defence Intelligence Agency, had filed defamation complaint against the Army Chief and four other Army officials.

Besides Army Chief, he has named Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (DG MI), Major General S L Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney, accusing them of misusing their official position, power and authority to level false charges against him.

Tejinder Singh had earlier trashed the allegations that
he had offered bribe to the Army Chief for clearing a deal for 600 "sub-standard" vehicles.

The court also asked Tejinder Singh`s counsel as to how could he say that there was a conspiracy to defame his client.

"Who is the signatory to the release? What is the role of the others (accused)? How do you see conspiracy?," the court asked.

To this, the counsel said, "Lt Col Hitten Sawhney is the signatory (in the press release). They (accused) conspired with each other to defame me and the press release has come through Army Headquarters."

After Tejinder Singh`s counsel advanced his arguments on court`s clarification, the magistrate initially reserved the order for May 11 but the lawyer raised objection after which the magistrate advanced it for May 5.

"There is no reason to delay the order. Please right my objection on it. He (Gen Singh) is going to retire and he is abusing his official position...I want to show the urgency," the advocate said.

He added, "once pre-summoning evidence is recorded and has been verified by the presiding officer (of the court) by putting his signature, the opinion of the presiding officer is formed then and there."

The court told the counsel that it has to form an opinion on the complaint and listed the matter for order on May 5.

"Let the court pass the order. This will be my opinion and not yours (counsel). Let me decide this. Is this the way you show your urgency? Come on May 5 for order," it said.


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