Told Army Chief to act on bribe,he didn’t: Antony

Army: ‘If I’m wrong,punish me. I think I’ve done my best,’ minister tells House

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2012 1:22:02 am

Defence Minister A K Antony told Parliament today that he had asked Gen. V K Singh to proceed against the man who had offered him the Rs 14-core bribe,but the Army Chief had said he did not want to pursue the matter.

The General had brought the matter to his notice “more than a year ago”,Antony said in a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha.

Antony admitted he “could have acted” on his own,but said he did not do so because he had received no written complaint. “As a minister,I cannot act just on a complaint… I did not get any written complaint at any stage,” Antony said. “I acted on my judgment. If I am wrong,you may punish me. I think I have done my best.”

The minister confirmed that the Army Chief had told him that the offer of the Rs 14-crore bribe to clear a defence equipment deal had been made by “one retired General Tejinder Singh”. “I was shocked,” Antony said. “It took me one or two minutes to regain my composure. Then I told him to take action but he told me I do not want to pursue it. I don’t know why he did not want to pursue it at that time.”

In interviews given on the subject,Gen. Singh has not named the officer who offered him the bribe,but Army HQ has earlier said Lt Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh,former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA),had “offered a bribe” on behalf of Czech heavy vehicles manufacturer Tatra.

“This happened more than one year ago. That is my memory. Exact date they (Army officials) know because no one can meet the Army Chief without an appointment,” Antony said.

He told the House that he had ordered a CBI inquiry on the basis of newspaper reports that appeared yesterday,and that nobody,howsoever powerful,would be spared.

In the evening,it was reported that CBI had received an audio recording of a conversation purportedly between Gen. Singh and another person,in which the former is agitated. It was not clear who had supplied the tape,or whether the voices on it were genuine.

CBI has asked the defence ministry to make available a formal complaint from Gen. Singh,apart from other details such as a list of witnesses and supporting documents,after which the probe would begin,sources said.

In the House,Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley clarified that the opposition was not questioning Antony’s integrity,but wondered why neither he nor Gen. Singh had taken any action when the incident allegedly happened in September 2010.

“Is this an issue on which both of them should have put blinkers on their eyes and not inquired into the matter at all?” Jaitley asked.

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