Sept. 30: The Supreme Court has decided to suo motu initiate contempt proceedings against V.K. Singh for newspaper remarks attributed to him questioning the court’s wisdom in not settling his age dispute while he was army chief.
A bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha has listed the matter for hearing tomorrow when it is expected to issue him a formal notice.
The comments attributed to Singh appeared in a national newspaper and related to his move last year to approach the court seeking its intervention in his dispute with the Centre over his date of birth. A bench headed by Justice Lodha had turned down his plea.
The prospect of legal trouble emerged on a day breach of privilege motions were moved in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly over Singh’s recent claims that the army had been paying off state ministers as part of the force’s anti-militancy measures.
The ruling National Conference (NC) brought the privilege motions in both Houses of the state legislature. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supported the motions, with chief Mehbooba Mufti terming it a good move. The PDP has rarely supported the NC earlier on any issue.
Speaker Mubarak Gul confirmed his office had received the motions, also backed by several other legislators.
“We demand a high-level probe into the whole affair,” finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather said, adding Singh’s remarks had damaged the credibility of the House, its members as well as the institution of the army.
“If he (Singh) has proof (of the alleged payments), he must put it in the domain of this House,” Rather added.
Singh had said it had been a practice since 1947 for several state ministers to be paid by army. He later modified his statement saying the money was not a “bribe” but meant to win the hearts and minds of people through welfare activities.
The remarks followed revelations in an army inquiry that he had tried to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in 2010.
Mehbooba, the PDP chief and leader of the Opposition, said the scrutiny shouldn’t stop with the motions. “We should stand united to expose the system that undermines democracy and democratic institutions.… Agencies (security or intelligence) shouldn't dabble in (political) matters here is the message that we should send.”
CPM state secretary M.Y. Tarigami said the general's statement should be condemned by one and all.
But the BJP iterated its allegation that Singh was being targeted for sharing the stage with Narendra Modi recently. “There should be an investigation to find out who leaked the (army) report,” state unit chief Jugal Kishore said.