Defence minister AK Antony on Thursday said General VK Singh-led Army Headquarters had recently recommended promotion of the lieutenant general against whom the army chief has lodged a graft complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"Only recently this lieutenant general's name has been proposed for promotion as army commander… that proposal (from the Army Headquarters) was made March 22. The proposal has reached my office only today," Antony told reporters in New Delhi.
Antony's remarks came a day after the army chief sent to the CBI a May 2011 letter from Trinamool Congress MP Ambika Banerjee complaining against Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who commands the Dimapur-based 3 Corps.
If promoted as army commander, Suhag will be in line - after chief designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh - to head the 1.13 million strong Indian Army.
But Gen Singh, citing the letter from the MP, has asked the premier investigating agency to probe the complaint against the lieutenant general alleging widespread procurement scams in the secretive Special Frontier Force - when Sugah was its inspector general.
Banerjee has alleged payoffs for the purchase of night-vision devices, communication systems and weapons, as well as parachutes.
Antony said he was aware of the MP's letter but what he didn't know was that the army chief had forwarded it to the CBI. He said he had asked Gen. Singh to initiate action if the complaint was specific.
"I have regular meetings with service chiefs. The army chief told me about some complaint against this particular lieutenant general. I told him if there is a specific complaint you must take action. This ended there.
"I don't know about this latest letter to the CBI by the army chief," the defence minister said.