The Delhi High Court Friday granted a week's more time to the central government to respond to the plea of Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh seeking directions to the army headquarters for withdrawing a March 5 press release containing serious allegations against him.
Justice Mukta Gupta allowed Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok, appearing for the central government, to clarify May 7 whether the press release containing allegations against the retired officer was issued by the government or by army officers, including the army chief, in their individual capacity.
Chandhiok, seeking time to clarify on the issue, informed the court that all the files regarding various officers named by Tejinder Singh in his petition, have not reached him.
The court March 30 had also asked the government to clarify the same after seeking instructions from the defence ministry.
Tejinder Singh approached the court after the army chief named him as the person who offered him a Rs.14 crore bribe in exchange for clearing a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles for the army.
Tejinder Singh filed a criminal writ petition stating that army officers including Army Chief General V.K. Singh had issued the press release against him, which is defamatory.
He alleged: "In the press release, derogatory statements have been made against me."
Seeking the withdrawal of the press release, the petitioner sought from the court to initiate disciplinary action against the army chief and four other officers and to give its sanction for their prosecution.
"The press release contained ex-facie defamatory statement and false accusations against the petitioner. The press release is unauthorized and illegal. As per rules, the army or its officials are not authorized to directly address the public through media," the petition said while contending that the illegal act of the army officials went un-noticed by the government.
Lt Gen Tejinder Singh through his petition alleged that army chief and other officials purportedly acting on behalf of the army issued and published the press release ostensibly to clear the army position on the bugging of the office of the Raksha Mantri (defence minister) and defame him.
Alleging that the army chief and the four officers misused their official position, Tejinder Singh said: "The army officers abused and misused their official position, power and authority for their ulterior personal gains by defaming and bringing dishonour to the petitioner."
The retired Lt. Gen. in his complaint has also named Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh (vice-chief of Army staff), Lt Gen B.S. Thakur (DGMI), Major General S.L. Narsimhan (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney (GSO-I Directorate General of Public Information) along with Army Chief V.K. Singh.