Vice-chief of Army Staff SK Singh and two senior officers will have to appear before a Delhi court in a defamation case filed by Lt Gen (Retd) Tejinder Singh. The Delhi high court on Monday turned down their plea for stay on summonses issued to them. They will have to appear before the trial court on Friday.
Acting on a criminal defamation complaint filed by Lt General (Retd) Singh, who accused former Army chief General VK Singh and four other officers of misusing their official position to level false allegations against him, Metropolitan magistrate Jay Thareja had last month issued summonses to them.
Besides Gen VK Singh, Vice-chief of Army Staff SK Singh, Lt Gen BS Thakur (DGMI), Major General S L Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney have been issued summonses.
Disposing of the pleas, Justice PK Bhasin said, “The counsel for both parties agreed that the issue of sanction under Section 197 CrPC can be allowed to be raised by the petitioner before the magistrate.”
Section 197 of CrPC prohibits a court from taking cognisance of any offence allegedly committed by any member of the armed forces, while discharging his official duty except with the previous sanction of the central government.
Tejinder Singh had alleged that the Army's press release accusing him of offering a bribe of R14 crore to General VK Singh for clearing a deal for 600 trucks, was defamatory.
Justice Bhasin asked the three officers to raise before the magisterial court their contentions that prior sanctions for their prosecution was not obtained. The court said magistrate can hear the issue of sanction after the petitioners appear before it on July 20.