The Centre today sought more time from the Delhi High Court to respond to former Lt Gen Tejinder Singh’s plea for directions to the Army HQs for withdrawal of its March 5 press release, which had alleged he offered a bribe to the Army chief to clear a defence acquisition deal.
Appearing before Justice Mukta Gupta, Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok sought a week to take a stand on the issue, saying all the files regarding various officers, named by Tejinder Singh in his petition, has not reached him.
Earlier, while hearing Tejinder Singh’s plea, Justice Gupta had asked the Centre to clarify if the press release with allegations against him was issued by the Government or by the Army officials in their individual capacity.
Accepting the ASG’s submission, Justice Gupta asked the government today to respond to the issue by May 7.
In a criminal writ petition filed through his counsel Anil K Aggarwal, Tejinder Singh had contended that the press release issued by senior Army officials, including Army Chief General V K Singh, was “defamatory” and sought its withdrawal.
Tejinder Singh had moved the court to initiate disciplinary legal action against the officers mentioned in his plea.
Besides Gen V K Singh, Tejinder Singh 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 as accused in the case.
He has also said in his petition that between March 1 and March 4, a large number of media reports had emerged with allegations of carrying out illegal off-the-air monitoring of call records of some senior officials and on March 5, media cell of the Army Headquarters issued a press release levelling serious allegations against him by name.
In his plea, Tejinder Singh had added he was also accused of managing media reports and was questioned for his alleged role in the purchase of off-the-air monitoring system.
He had said it was also alleged that he had purchased a flat in Mumbai’s Adarsh Society and had offered bribe to the Army chief for swinging a sub-standard defence deal in favour of a private firm.
The Army chief had earlier claimed that a lobbyist, who had “just” retired, offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a file relating to purchase of a tranche of 600 “sub-standard” TATRA trucks and he had immediately informed Defence Minister A K Antony about it.