Defending himself in the backdrop of the CBI raids on his residence, Lt Gen (Retd) Nobel Thamburaj yesterday issued a statement saying the case was three years old and he had no access to official documents. He said, "With reference to yesterday's (Tuesday's) developments, you would appreciate that an army commander cannot micromanage, since the span of his activities is very large. 

He has to delegate and rely on the advice of his staff. In the instant case, no defence land has been transferred to any builder during my tenure in Southern Command. The sanction for the construction of this building was given well before my tenure.  The building on the said land (8A Lothian Road) was constructed before I took charge. The only issue was giving the completion certificate.  There was a dispute between the army and the builder on some issues and he had taken the army to court." 

Thamburaj was the then general officer commanding of the Southern Command. The statement said he was convinced by his subordinates and staff to go for an out-of-court settlement. "My subordinate commanders, staff and advisors convinced me that we had a weak case in court, and it would be wiser to have an out-of-court settlement. 

Once I was told that the Principal Director of Defence Estates, who is the expert in such matters, had also concurred with the proposal, I approved an out-of-court settlement on file. The MoU between the army and the builder was signed a month after I had left for Delhi on my next assignment. 

This file has been perused twice by my successor before any action was taken on the MOU," it said. The CBI on Tuesday raided the residences of Thamburaj, retired defence estates officer S R Nayyar and the office of Kalpataru Builders for alleged involvement in a land scam.