The Delhi High Court today asked Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh,seeking withdrawal of an alleged defamatory press release accusing him of offering bribe to the Army chief to clear a defence deal,to prove that the right to reputation is a fundamental right.
“You show and satisfy me that right to reputation is a fundamental right. Do not argue in the air and come prepared with the case laws,” Justice Mukta Gupta said.
The court’s observation came after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A S Chandhiok,appearing for the Centre,gave to the court a note,which purportedly made clear the Centre’s stand.
Anil Aggarwal,appearing for Tejinder Singh,who was allowed to have a glance of the note later said the government has told the court that it has no role whatsoever in the issuance of the alleged press release,which was drafted and released by the Army after a proper consultation of the top brass as per their media policy.
During the hearing,Justice Gupta asked the counsel for former lieutenant general that prima facie it appears that the writ petition was not maintainable as Singh has other civil and criminal remedies to seek redressal against the alleged defamation caused to him by the Army’s press release.
“Petitioner seeks time to satisfy the court that the right to reputation is a fundamental right and it has been breached,” the court said and fixed the matter for further hearing on May 24.
The Centre,earlier,had sought more time to respond to Tejinder Singh’s plea for directions to the Army Headquarters 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.