The central government Monday told the Delhi High Court that a March 5 press release, hurling allegations against retired Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh, was issued by the army and it had no role in it.
Tejinder Singh had approached the court after army chief Gen. V.K. Singh issued the release, saying he was offered Rs.14 crore in bribe to clear a tranche of 600 "sub-standard" vehicles for the army.
The reply to the court was submitted by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok, appearing for the government.
He said the press release came from the army and the "highest" in the army approved it. The government had nothing to do with it.
The court had earlier asked the government to clarify if the press release was issued by the government or by army officers including the chief.
Justice Mukta Gupta asked Tejinder Singh's counsel Anil Aggarwal to prove that the right to reputation was a fundamental right, after he said that the press release was a breach of his right.
The court posted the matter for May 24 and said: "You show and satisfy me that the right to reputation is a fundamental right. You will have to satisfy what is your fundamental right and how it is breached. Do not argue in the air and come prepared with the case laws."
Tejinder Singh moved the court seeking directions to the army to withdraw the press release. He alleged that it levelled serious allegation against him.
Tejinder Singh filed a criminal writ petition saying the release was defamatory.
The petitioner sought from the court initiation of disciplinary action against the army chief and four other officers and 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 the rules, the army or its officials are not authorised to directly address the public through media," the petition said.
Tejinder Singh's petition alleged that the army chief and other officers issued and published the release ostensibly to clear the army's stand on the alleged bugging of the office of the defence minister and defame him.
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."