CBI inquiry against Army Chief, demands retired officer Tejinder Singh

CBI inquiry against Army Chief, demands retired officer Tejinder Singh
New Delhi The man who allegedly offered the Army Chief Rs 14 crore as a kickback has asked the Supreme Court to sanction a CBI inquiry against the chief for allegedly ordering the illegal monitoring of phones in the Defence Ministry. Tejinder Singh, who retired as Lieutenant General, says the CBI should raid the homes and offices of Army Chief General VK Singh and his relatives. Tejinder Singh has already filed a defamation suit against General Singh in a Delhi court.

Tejinder Singh has been accused, in a written complaint by the Army Chief, of offering him a bribe in 2010 to clear the purchase of "sub-standard" trucks. Ravi Rishi, the CEO of Vectra, which provides Tatra trucks to the Army, has also been questioned repeatedly by the CBI.  Mr Rishi has denied that Tejinder Singh either formally or informally represented Vectra as a middleman.

The Army Chief's revelation about the bribe, made in an interview last month, generated a huge controversy, brought relations between him and the government to an all-time low, and focus the attention of the government and the opposition on the need for more transparent purchases for the equipment needed for the armed forces.

In March, the Army released a press statement that alleged that Tejinder Singh was offering bribes on behalf of Vectra.  It also suggested that he had tried to violate Army guidelines by ordering off-the-air monitoring equipment without necessary clearances. The statement was issued amid controversy over whether phones in the Defence Ministry had been tapped as the Army Chief took the government to court over a row over his age.  Tejinder Singh has sued the Army Chief and other senior officers for defamation over this press release.

Till January this year, the Army Chief and the Defence Ministry fought a public and lengthy battle over his age.  General Singh took the government to court for refusing to accept his claim that he is a year younger than his records reflect.  If the government had agreed with him, he would have been eligible for another year in office.  He withdrew his case after the Supreme Court indicated it would not rule in his favour.  General Singh retires at the end of May.

Days after he went public with details of the bribe that he was offered, a letter written by him to the Prime Minister was leaked.  It listed in worrying detail the deficiencies in the Army's equipment. General Singh described air defence as "97% obsolete" and said the Army's tanks are "devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks."

Story First Published: April 25, 2012 15:22 IST

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