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Jaitley asks his ministry to explain court statement on Gen Singh, now a fellow minister

New Delhi, Jun 11(PTI): Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has sought an explanation from his ministry on its affidavit in the Supreme Court in which it terms as “illegal and premeditated” a decision by General V.K. Singh - now retired and a minister -- when he was army chief.

Jaitley called for the explanation from Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur and ministry officials may also meet the minister to give their side of the story, official sources said here.

The ministry was commenting on the decision by Gen Singh, then the army chief, to impose a promotion ban on army chief-designate Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag.

The defence ministry has told the Supreme Court in a recent affidavit in a promotion case related to Lt Gen Ravi Dastane that the alleged lapses which were made as grounds to impose a disciplinary ban on Suhag were “premeditated”, “vague” and “illegal”.

Soon after the matter came to light, Gen V.K. Singh alleged that the “Defence Ministry affidavit is same as it gave to Armed Forces Tribunal under protective and conniving UPA”.

He also justified his decision to impose a discipline and vigilance (DV) ban on Lt Gen Suhag, tweeting on Tuesday: “If unit kills innocents,does dacoity and then head of organization tries to protect them, should he not be blamed? Criminals should go free!!.”

The former Army Chief's comments came against the backdrop of reports that a unit under Lt Gen Suhag had allegedly carried out killings and dacoities in the North East region.

The ministry, meanwhile, said it has adhered to its stand taken earlier on the issue related to imposition of DV ban on Lt. Gen. Suhag by Gen V.K. Singh.

The sources said Government's stand in legal proceedings was based on considered facts and decisions and cannot be changed in different courts.

The ban was imposed on Lt Gen Suhag for alleged “failure of command and control” in an operation carried out by an intelligence unit working directly under him when he was heading the Dimapur-based 3 Corps.

In its last days in office, the UPA-II government had named Lt Gen Suhag as the Army Chief to succeed Gen Bikram Singh when he retires on July 31.

In its affidavit filed in the apex court registry, the Defence ministry said, “The alleged lapses observed by the then COAS, as reflected in the show cause notice, were premeditated and issued in utter disregard to the legal provisions governing the court of inquiry, principles of natural justice... the lapses were vague, based on presumptions and legally and factually not maintainable”.

“Evidently, the entire exercise to issue show cause notice was premeditated and as per records, the directions issued in this regard, including imposition of the DV ban and issue of show cause notice were found to be illegal,” it said.

The affidavit has been filed in response to a plea of Lt Gen Ravi Dastane alleging favouritism in the selection of Lt Gen Suhag as the Army commander who will succeed the Army Chief.

Lt Gen Suhag's promotion as Army commander was cleared by Gen Bikram Singh soon after V.K. Singh retired. The ban was also lifted.

The Congress has sought the resignation of V.K. Singh as Union Minister, saying the affidavit was an expression of “no confidence” in him.

”This minister cannot remain in the Council of Ministers. It's a matter of detail whether he is removed or he resigns,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters on Tuesday.


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