Govt orders CBI probe into allegation by Army chief

NEW DELHI: The government today ordered a CBI inquiry into the allegation made by Army chief Gen V K Singh that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe by a lobbyist.

A CBI probe was ordered by Defense Minister A K Antony in the wake of the Army chief’s allegation, Defense Ministry officials told PTI here.

Terming Gen Singh’s allegations as “serious”, Antony told reporters outside Parliament, “We have to handle it…I have taken action.”

When asked if the Army chief had informed him about the bribe offer, he said, “Parliament is in session.”

In an interview to an English news website ‘Chauthi Duniya’, the Army chief alleged that an equipment lobbyist offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore, which he had reported to the Defense Minister.

He said the lobbyist offered him the bribe in order to have a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles of a particular make cleared for purchase.

“Just imagine, one of these men had the gumption to walk up to me and tell me that if I cleared the tranche, he would give me Rs 14 crore. He was offering a bribe to me, to the Army chief. He told me that people had taken money before me and they will take money after me,” Gen Singh said.

Reacting to the allegation leveled by Gen Singh, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said, “Both the Defense Minister and the Army chief should have acted immediately.

“It is a criminal act and nobody should be allowed to go scot free after offering a bribe,” he told reporters outside Parliament.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, “Whenever such allegation is leveled by any senior official, the government makes sure that it is clarified.”

“He (Gen Singh) has said a very serious thing in his statement and every thing should be made clear in black and white,” she said.

On the statement of Gen Singh, former Army chief Deepak Kapoor said, “It is below my dignity to comment on the allegation.” Defense Ministry sources said the Army chief had informed the Defense Minister about the bribe offer “only verbally” and no written information was provided.

They said since the information was not provided in writing, no action was taken and now that the issue has become public, a CBI probe has been ordered into it.

Why Chief did not file FIR?

Reacting to his interview, the Congress criticized the Army chief, saying he should have filed an FIR against the person who had offered the bribe.

The Army chief said he could not understand the import of the statement and that is why he did not act against the person who made it.

“If a person who has just retired a few days ago tells you that you will get this if you do that thing and when you have never heard something like this, you would be shocked.

“I did not understand what he was saying and asked him to leave and then informed the Defense Minister about it,” he said.

The BJP also faulted the government for not taking any action on the Army chief’s complaint in this regard.

Asked why he did not get the lobbyist arrested by the police immediately, Gen Singh said, “I think it would have been better had I complained against him. The way it was said, I could not understand what he was saying.

“He was just saying that if this file is cleared, this much amount will be paid. Everyone takes it what is your problem. It was not like he was giving me bribe in my hand. This was an indirect method and that is why no arrest was made.”

On the issue of corruption in the Army, Gen Singh said some wrongdoings have been going on in the force for quite some time now and a “big surgery” is required to remove the “cancer” which will take some time.-PTI

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