New Delhi, May 18 - A Delhi court today said that it will hold an inquiry into the allegations levelled by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh in a criminal defamation case filed by him against Gen V K Singh before passing any order on summoning the Army Chief.
The court also directed the Defence Ministry to place before it the file relating to the publication of the Army's March 5 press release in which Tejinder Singh was accused of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the Army Chief.
The court, in its order, said it was "prima facie satisfied that the March 5 press release was defamatory" as "ex-facie" serious allegation of "bribery" has been made against Tejinder Singh, who had a long and distinguished career in the Army.
However, the court said before passing any order, it has to be inquired whether the Army Chief and four others named in the complaint, had any role in the publication of the press release.
The court said that the "only important question that now survives" before it is that whether among the five persons, mentioned in the complaint, the Army Chief and two others -- Lt Gen S K Singh and Lt Gen B S Thakur -- had any complicity in the publication of the press release.
"I find that at this stage i.e. on the basis of evidence available, this court cannot draw any positive or negative inference and it would be appropriate for this court to postpone the issuance of process and hold an inquiry as per section 202 of the CrPC," Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja, in his 17-page order, said.
Section 202 of the CrPC empowers the court to hold inquiry for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding in a complaint.
Perusing the complaint and the press release, the judge said, "In my view, at this stage, testimony of the complainant supported by the testimonies of complainant witnesses...is sufficient to prima facie satisfy this court that the press release dated March 5 is defamatory i.e. false and injurious qua the character and reputation of the complainant.
"The bribery allegation made in the press release dated March 5 appears to be a ex-facie serious allegation when seen in light of the fact that the complainant has claimed to have rendered thirty nine and half years of distinguished service in the Indian Army and have obtained two medals from the Government of India for his distinguished service," it said.
The court, which was scheduled to pass an order today on summoning Army Chief and four others, said that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would send the file, relating to publication of the press release before it in a sealed cover.
"In pursuance of the inquiry under section 202 of the CrPC, it is directed that file regarding publication of the press release dated March 5 be summoned through office of the Secretary, MoD, Union of India.
"In case the file is not available in the office of the Secretary, MoD, it is expected that Secretary, MoD would summon the file from the Army Headquarters and ensure that it is sent in a sealed cover through an appropriate officer, for perusal by this court," the court said.
It said that as per the facts in the complaint, it does not disclose the commission of offence described under section 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) of IPC because till the filing of complaint, "no criminal prosecution had been instituted against the complaint." PTI