Lt General (retired) Tejinder Singh testified before a Delhi court today in the criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Army Chief V K Singh and four other top officers.
However,the court rejected his plea to issue summons against them right away,saying it needs to first go through the records. Before the next hearing on April 21,Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar said,the court would decide whether to issue summons and hence initiate prosecution against the Army Chief and others,or to put up the matter first for pre-summoning arguments.
Apart from General Singh,Tejinder Singh has named Vice-Chief of Army Staff S K Singh,Lt Gen B S Thakur (Director General,Military Intelligence),Major General S L Narasimhan (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney.
You want me to directly issue the summons (to them) even though I am yet to go through the file, said the magistrate,adding that he may also seek certain clarifications at the next hearing.
Tejinder Singhs lawyer maintained that there was no need for pre-summoning arguments and that the accusation that his client had been defamed had been prima facie proved by documents and testimonies.
The retired Lt Col himself took the witness box and recorded his statement,accusing all the five of issuing,in collusion,a press release on March 5-6 alleging that stories in the media about the unauthorised snooping on mobile phones of Defence Ministry officials,particularly in South Block,had been put out by him.
He denied any role in the story and said that as an army officer who had retired almost two years back,he did not have the resources to influence the media. Tejinder Singh repeated that the release was issued by the Army Headquarters only to divert the attention of public from news that was raising fingers at senior functionaries,including Gen V K Singh.
Tejinder Singh,who has also filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking to know on whose direction the press release was issued,added that he had never been questioned on the illegal snooping issue.
By levelling four false allegations against him,Singh said,the release had absolutely devastated him.
The press release spoiled my reputation and I became a suspect in the eyes of the entire nation… the press release is absolutely illegal in terms of the Army Act and Defence Technical Publicity Rules… It is for you (court) to consider that I cant explain my innocence to everyone. Fortunately,courts in this country have great legitimacy and hence I have come to the court, Tejinder Singh said.
He also dismissed the allegation that he had offered a bribe to General V K Singh on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd,which supply trucks to BEML. This allegation is absolutely false,ill-founded,concocted and fabricated, he said.
Regarding owing a flat in Mumbais Adarsh Housing Society,Tejinder Singh said: It is correct that I am an allottee,but I would like to say that I am a bona fide allottee and no investigation of any kind exists against me in this case. Therefore,this allegation was only made to smear my reputation.
Tejinder Singh produced three witnesses to support his defamation complaint and corroborate his contention that the press release lowered his reputation in the eyes of family,friends,acquaintances and general public. The three included former Army major R S Sahrawat Tejinder Singhs friend and NDA batchmate first cousin Bhupender Chaudhary and Suman Chaudhary,who said he had known the former Lt Gen for the past 40 years. All three said the press release had dented Tejinder Singhs reputation.
Regarding his petition in the high court,the court has asked the Central Government to clarify by April 27 if the press release from the Army Headquarters had been issued by the ministry or some Army officials in their personal capacity.