Defence Minister Antony orders CBI probe on army chief’s bribe claim

New Delhi, Mar.26: Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Monday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into Army Chief General V.K. Singh’s claim that he had been offered a bribe of Rs.14 crore by an equipments lobbyist to sanction the purchase of 600 sub-standard vehicles.

A Defence Ministry statement confirmed that the CBI would probe the matter.

Antony said General Singh’s allegation is a serious one.

“Allegation of General Singh that he was offered bribe is serious. We have to handle it,” Antony said.

The Congress party reacted sharply to General Singh’s charges, saying the latter should have approached the police first.

“If someone had approached General Singh, he should have got an FIR registered against the person,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari told reporters outside Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticized the UPA-II Government for not taking any action on General Singh’s allegations.

“What has the government done after General Singh revealed that he was offered bribe? This is a serious matter. Let the Defence Minister inform what he has done on the issue,” senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said outside Parliament.

Janata Dal (United) leader Shivanand Tiwari said: “The army chief should be asked if he was offered bribe, why did he not call police.”

General Singh has claimed that he was offered bribe worth Rs.14 crore by an equipment lobbyist to have a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles cleared for purchase.

General Singh also said that 7,000 of those sub-standard vehicles were already in use in the Army and had been sold over the years at exorbitant prices.

In an interview to national daily ‘The Hindu’ General Singh said, “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.”

He also said that he reported the incident to Defence Minister Antony.

When asked how the army chief could be offered a bribe, he said, “Obviously somewhere our standards of probity and integrity have fallen.” (ANI)