New Delhi: In the dock after Army Chief General VK Singh’s startling revelation that he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe to clear a defence purchase, Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday sought to defend himself saying strict action would be taken against the guilty.
Making a statement in Rajya Sabha, Antony said that the Army Chief had informed him about the incident more than a year back and that he had asked Gen Singh to take action.
The Army Chief had named Lt General (Retired) Tejinder Singh as the man who had approached him with the offer of bribe, Antony said. However, “the Army Chief told me at that time he didn’t want to pursue it”, the minister added.
Antony’s remarks raise doubts over the authenticity of Army Chief’s claims that he had reported the matter to the minister so that action could be taken against the guilty.
The minister had yesterday come in for criticism following Gen Singh’s revelation.
Questioning Gen Singh’s stand, Antony asked “he could have given a written complaint to me or to the department”.
“But he didn’t do it,” the minister said, adding “I must get a written complaint”.
The minister further said he was shocked to hear the incident, adding a comprehensive CBI probe would be held into the matter.
“If anybody is found guilty, however powerful he may be, strict action will be taken against him,” Antony said, adding “no one will be spared”.
“If at any stage of procurement corruption is proved, I will go to the extent of cancelling the licences,” he assured the House.
Antony reiterated that he is for modernisation of the armed forces but would not tolerate corruption.
Defending his track record, Antony said he has fought against corruption throughout his public life.
“If I am wrong, punish me,” he told the House, adding “but I have done my best”.
The Opposition meanwhile questioned the Defence Minister’s sincerity in the matter, asking why he did not take the complaint seriously.
BJP’s Arun Jaitley said facts revealed on the bribe row are disturbing, and added the matter should have been probed when the complaint was made.
He added defence modernisation and preparedness should not suffer while the probe is on.