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Court summons former army chief in defamation case

Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja issued summons for July 20 to V.K. Singh and four others in the defamation case. However, the court rejected the allegation of criminal conspiracy, saying that it was absurd.

"In the light of aforesaid discussion and the discussion in the order dated May 18, all the respondents are summoned as accused in the present matter," said the court. The court added that a criminal conspiracy by respondents "appears to be absurd and without any foundation".

Former army chief Gen V K Singh

"The accused are only being summoned qua offence described under section 499 (defamation) read with section 35 (criminal intention) of the Indian Penal Code," said the court.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh has requested the court to summon and initiate proceedings against the former army chief and others for allegedly making libellous statements against him in the media and accusing him of bribery.

Alleging that the officers misused their official position, power and authority to level false charges against him, Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh also named Army Vice Chief Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh, Director General Military Intelligence Lt. Gen. B.S. Thakur, Additional Director General Public Information Major Gen. S.L. Narsimhan and Directorate General of Public Information Staff Officer Lt. Col. Hitten Sawhney.

The court while summoning the former Army chief and four others, observed that the documents related to approval of press release published March 5 was missing.

The army chief has disclosed in the press release that he was offered a kickback of Rs.14 crore by a retired defence officer in exchange for clearing a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles.

Denying all the allegations, Tejinder Singh has said that in the press release of March 5 Army HQ publicly accused him and a group of serving officers of the Military Intelligence (MI) of conspiring to create a rift between Army chief General V.K. Singh and the government.

The Army HQ has said the "fabricated fiction" was put out by a group of disgruntled serving officers of MI working in connivance with a retired Lt Gen, who was a head of Defence Intelligence Agency.

The retired Lt Gen denied the allegation against him in the plea and filed a defamation case against the five March 27.

The secretary, Ministry of Defence June 6 submitted documents related to publication of the said press release in the courts.

The court noted that the said documents did not contain any office noting or copy of any rule regarding approval of the press release by the chief of Army staff and others.

"On account of the absence of any such office noting or copy of any rule, the aforesaid testimony of the complainant has been believed at this stage, because being a former head of Military Intelligence, the complainant has knowledge to depose about practice and procedures being followed at the Army Headquarters regarding publications of communications like the press release," said the court.

The court said that offer of bribe made by complainant to V.K. Singh would not have percolated down to the respondents, Narsimhan and Sawhney, if the former Army chief had not told them. The court observed that the statement made by Ministry of Defence undersecretary R. Sunder as a witness in the case, the complicity of V.K. Singh, S.K. Singh and Thakur are prima facie deducible from the use of words "highest levels of army" in the publication of said press release followed by approval by a hierarchy.

The court said that after perusing the evidence brought on record during the recent court hearing, it has found sufficient material to proceed against all the respondents.
 

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