New Delhi, April 10: The CBI is set to launch a probe into an alleged bribe offer by a retired lieutenant general after army chief Gen. V.K. Singh sent a formal complaint today saying Tejinder Singh offered him Rs 14 crore to clear a defence deal.
“We will finalise by tomorrow whether to start a regular case or register a preliminary enquiry (PE). But it is likely we would register a PE first, considering the sensitivity of the case. If we find the allegation can be substantiated, the PE would be turned into an FIR,” a source said.
“We have also contacted attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati seeking his opinion on whether to register a case or a PE, considering the belated bribery disclosure. The (alleged) incident had taken place in August 2010 but the complaint has been registered today.”
The army chief’s letter came on a day Tejinder Singh deposed before a Delhi court, where he had filed a criminal defamation suit against V.K Singh and four others. He told metropolitan magistrate S. Kumar the allegation against him was “absolutely false and baseless”. The court recorded his statement and listed the matter for April 21.
A CBI source said the army chief “mentioned” the alleged Rs 14-crore bribe offer to clear the purchase of “sub-standard Tatra vehicles”. V.K. Singh had also given some “evidence” to substantiate his allegation, the source added.
After registering a preliminary enquiry, the CBI can ask Tejinder Singh to come to the agency’s headquarters. “We would then record his statements based on the allegation. If we find enough evidence, an FIR would be registered. But the PE can be closed if the allegation is not substantiated,” said an official.
The CBI is already probing alleged irregularities in the deal for the Czech-origin Tatra trucks.
Anna Hazare’s team today asked the Prime Minister to order a probe by an independent agency into the recent allegations of corruption in defence deals and also the source of reports that implied the army chief was attempting a coup.
“It seems there is a well-planned conspiracy to weaken the morale of our armed forces and question the integrity of our army chief,” says the letter in Hindi that bears the names of Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi.