V K Singh defamation: Court sets 4-month deadline for sanction

V K Singh defamation: Court sets 4-month deadline for sanction

V K Singh defamation: Court sets 4-month deadline for sanction

A Delhi court today set a deadline of four months for the Centre to grant sanction to prosecute four army officials, who are accused in a criminal defamation case along with former Army Chief General V K Singh.

The court directed complainant former Lieutenant General Tejinder Singh to approach the Centre on the issue and clarified that if the government fails to grant or refuse sanction to prosecute the accused within the stipulated three-four months, then the permission would be deemed to have been granted.

"In the light of the aforesaid, the applications filed by accused persons are allowed to the extent that the complainant (Tejinder) is directed to approach the Central Government and obtain sanction under section 197 (2) of CrPC to prosecute the accused persons," Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja said.

".... a rider is attached to the aforesaid direction i.e that in case the Central government fails to grant/refuse the sanction within 3-4 months of the application filed by the complainant, the complainant would be at liberty to approach this court and seek continuance of the present case on the premise that the sanction may be deemed to have been granted by the Central government," the magistrate said.

The order came on the applications filed by four accused, including a retired Army official, for appropriate directions or dropping of proceedings against them for want of sanction to prosecute them under section 197 (2) of the CrPC.

Section 197 (2) of CrPC stipulates that the court should not take cognisance of alleged offence without prior sanction of the government.

The four accused, the then Vice Chief of Army S K Singh, retired Lieutenant General B S Thakur (the then DG of Military Intelligence), Major General S L Narshiman (ADG of Public Information) and Colonel Hitten Sawhney, were summoned by the court along with V K Singh on a criminal defamation complaint filed by Tejinder Singh.

During the proceedings today, the court said it would hear the plea filed by Tejinder Singh seeking cancellation of bail granted to the former Army Chief on March 3 next year.

Tejinder had on November 25 moved the plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to V K Singh claiming that he had "repeated defamatory accusations" against him in his recently released book 'Courage and Conviction' despite the restrain order passed by the court on October 3.

Tejinder had filed a criminal defamation complaint against five persons, including the then army chief V K Singh, alleging he was defamed by the Army through its press release issued on March 5 last year which accused him of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the then Army Chief to clear a deal of 600 trucks, a charge refuted by him.

All the five accused had appeared before the court on July 20 last year in response to the summonses issued against them. They were granted bail by the court on that day.

In his complaint, Tejinder has accused them of misusing their official position, power and authority to level false charges against him.

The press release had accused Tejinder, former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency, and some serving officers of the Military Intelligence of planting a story in the media relating to purported tapping of some sensitive phones in the national capital.

The court had said it was "prima facie" satisfied that the March 5 press release was "defamatory" as "ex-facie" serious allegation of "bribery" has been made against Tejinder who had a long and distinguished career in the Army.

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