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Monday, 26 March 2012

Fresh row over Army chief's bribe remarks


Fresh row over Army chief's bribe remarks

New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI): Army chief Gen V K Singh, who has claimed that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a 'sub-standard' procurement order, has said he could not understand the significance of the statement and that is why he did not act against the person who made it. "If a person who has just retired a few days ago tells you that you will get this if you do that thing and when you have never heard something like this, you would be shocked. I did not understand what he was saying and asked him to leave and then informed the Defence Minister about it," he told news website 'Chauthi Duniya'.
Reacting to his interview to an English newspaper, the Congress criticised the Army chief, saying he should have filed an FIR against the person who had offered the bribe.
The BJP also faulted the government for not taking any action on the Army chief's complaint in this regard to Defence Minister A K Antony.
Asked why he did not get the lobbyist arrested by the police immediately, Gen Singh said, "I think it would have been better had I complained against him. The way it was said, I could not understand what he was saying. "He was just saying that if this file is cleared, this much amount will be paid. Everyone takes it what is your problem. It was not like he was giving me bribe in my hand. This was an indirect method and that is why no arrest was made."
On the issue of corruption in the Army, Gen Singh said some wrongdoings have been going on in the force for quite some time now and a "big surgery" is required to remove the "cancer" which will take some time.
Defence Ministry sources said the Army chief had informed the Defence Minister about the bribe offer "only verbally" and no written information was provided. They said since the information was not provided in writing, no action was taken and now that the issue has become public, a CBI probe has been ordered into it.
Gen Singh did not specify the time when the episode took place or the name of the person who made the offer. Soon after the story broke out, Antony described the matter as "serious" and ordered a CBI inquiry.        
Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, who was earlier blamed by the Army of leaking stories about snooping of Defence Minister's phones and who is speculated in the media as the "lobbyist" who made the bribe offer, denied the allegation. "I have nothing to do with the TATRA (trucks involved in the purported bribe offer). I have not worked for any private or defence company," he said adding he would take legal action but did not specify as to against whom.
Tejinder Singh said Gen Singh had not even taken his name and it was only media speculation that he was involved in the latest controversy and that he was not working for any private or Defence Company. "Having retired two years ago... In the wake of these allegations, some allegations have been made against me, which I must humbly say that I totally deny," he said.
Tejinder Singh said he did not get into a discourse on the matter, which would only bring further disrepute to the Army. The former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief said he had met Gen Singh year and a half back in 2010.
Asked if there was any discussion between him and the Army chief about any defence deal, Tejinder Singh said, "To my understanding, Army chief has nothing to do with defence contracts. They are all high value deals which are handled by the Defence Ministry." He said he was considering taking legal action against "people concerned".
Reacting to the media reports, the BJP accused the Government especially Antony of "silence and inaction" on a serious matter conveyed to him by the Army chief. Calling an attempt to bribe the Army chief as " very serious", BJP leader L K Advani said there should be a "very speedy inquiry" and the results should be conveyed to Parliament immediately.