HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 27, 2012
Defence minister AK Antony said Tuesday he had asked General VK Singh to take action against the alleged middleman, a former army officer, who had offered him a bribe but the army chief did not pursue the matter for unknown reasons.
Antony told the Rajya Sabha he was shocked
"I was shocked…Then I told him (the chief) to take action but he said he did not want to pursue it. I don't know why…," the minister said.
He couldn't take action as there was no written complaint, Antony said.
Lt Gen Tejinder Singh retired as the Defence Intelligence Agency chief in July 2010. The chief was allegedly offered the money a month later.
Antony told the House he had gone by his judgement and was ready to be punished if wrong. His track record showed that he fought for probity in public life, the minister said.
The government Monday ordered a CBI probe into the chief's allegations that he was offered Rs 14 crore to buy 600 "sub-standard" vehicles for the army.
Singh made the revelation in media interviews almost 18 months after the offer was made and barely two months before his retirement on May 31.
The claim also comes weeks after the chief's confrontation with the ministry over his date of birth. The Supreme Court refused to accept Gen Singh's claim on the age issue.
The chief has not named the person who offered him the money and referred to him as a "recently retired officer".
Antony's comments are significant since he has spoken publicly for the first time on an issue raised by the chief. Even when Gen Singh's age row was at its peak, the minister refrained from making comments.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the Opposition did not question the minister's integrity but asked why no action was taken.
"Is this an issue on which both of them (minister and chief) should have put blinkers on their eyes and not inquired into the matter at all?" Jaitley said.
The army chief told news channel ETV that he couldn't act against the "middleman" because it was an indirect offer that left him stunned.
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