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High court seeks government's clarification on Tejinder Singh's plea

Delhi,Defence/Security,Immigration/Law/Rights, Fri, 30 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday asked the government to clarify whether the press release issued on March 5 containing allegations against Lt. Gen. (retired) Tejinder Singh, was issued by the government or by army officers, including the army chief, in their individual capacity.


Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh has moved the court seeking its directions to the Army HQ for withdrawal of the press release. He alleged that the March 5 press release issued by army headquarters levelled serious allegation against him.



Justice Mukta Gupta asked the government's advocate to inform the court by April 27 whether the press release was issued by the government or the army officers in their individual capacity after seeking instructions from the defence ministry.



Refusing to issue notice to the Defence Ministry, the court asked the petitioner: 'Show any judgement or provision of law under which the court can direct the government to withdraw the press release.'



Tejinder Singh filed a criminal writ petition through his advocate Anil K. Aggarwal that said that army officers including Army Chief V.K. Singh had issued the press release against him, which is defamatory. He alleged: 'In the press release derogatory statements have been made against the Lt General.'



Seeking withdrawal of the press release, the petitioner sought from the court to initiate disciplinary action against the army chief and other four officers and to give 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 rules, the army or its officials are not authorized to directly address the public through media,' petition said while contending that the illegal act of the army officials went un-noticed by the government.



Lt Gen Tejinder Singh through his petition alleged that army chief and other officials purportedly acting on behalf of the army issued and published the press release ostensibly to clear the army position on the bugging of the office of the Raksha Mantri (defence minister) and defame him.



Alleging that the army chief and the four officers misused their official position, 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.'



He also sought protection against defamation in exercise of the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 and protection against abuse of official position, power and authority by the government and army officers under Article 13 of the Constitution.



The petitioner sought from the court: 'To take appropriate and necessary steps to protect and restore the reputation, dignity and honour of the petitioner from wrongful assault by its officers.'



He further pleaded that the officers are bound to act within the four corners of their power, authority and jurisdiction and not to exceed the same in any manner and circumstance.



'The present petition has been filed by the petitioner seeking protection of his fundamental right to reputation, dignity and honour under Article 21 and protection against illegal accusation of offences under Article 20.'



Alleging that the officers misused their official position, power and authority to level false charges against him, the retired Lt General in his complaint has also named S.K. Singh (vice-chief of Army staff), Lt Gen B.S. Thakur (DGMI), Major General S.L. Narsimhan (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney (GSO-I Directorate General of Public Information) along with Army Chief V.K. Singh.



He approached the court after the army chief named him as the person who offered him Rs.14 crore bribe in exchange for clearing a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles for the army.


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