High Drama: LC Refuses To Accept Ex-Army Chief’s Letter

High Drama: LC Refuses To Accept Ex-Army Chief’s Letter

9 January 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Amidst a high drama, one of the officials in the Legislative Council today allegedly refused to accept a letter written by former Army chief Gen VK Singh giving his version on alleged pay-offs scandal for which he had been summoned at 11.30 am today by Privilege Committee of the Council. The General had also sent the letter by speed post but the Council Secretariat claimed that it has not received any such letter. Legislative Council Chairman Amrit Malhotra, meanwhile, received a call from Gen Singh’s Advocate this afternoon on his mobile phone in which the Advocate stated that the former Army chief had gone to Tamil Nadu and would appear in person before the Privilege Committee on next date of summon i.e. January 22. The Legislative Council Privilege Committee headed by Congress leader Jugal Kishore, former Minister and MLC, which had asked the former Army chief to appear before it at 11.30 am on January 9, issued a fresh deadline for the General on January 22. However, the Committee asked Principal Secretary Home and Director General of Police (DGP) Haryana to convey the date to Gen Singh for appearing before the Privilege Committee to reply to the queries pertaining to alleged pay-offs scandal. Mr Malhotra told the Excelsior that he got a call from the Advocate of the former Army chief this afternoon in which he explained that his client had gone to Tamil Nadu and couldn’t appear before the Privilege Committee. He quoted the unnamed Advocate as saying that Gen Singh has all regards for the Legislative Council Privilege Committee and would positively appear before it on next date fixed by the Privilege Committee. The Advocate apprised Mr Malhotra that they had sent their representative to the Council with a written clarification of the former Army chief on pay-offs scandal but it was not received by one of the Secretaries of the Upper House. The Secretary in question, however, told Mr Malhotra that he didn’t receive any such letter. In the day of high-pitched drama, Col (Retired) UB Singh, a family friend of Gen Singh, told the Excelsior that their messenger-Yashpal Singh had gone to the Council Secretariat along with copy of the letter written by Gen Singh in response to the summons and addressed to the Legislative Council Chairman and the Privilege Committee chairman. Gen Singh had deputed Yashpal to Jammu along with copy of the letter. Col Singh said Yashpal appeared before one of the Secretaries of the Council and wanted to hand over the letter to him. He said the Secretary in question spoke to someone on telephone and then refused to receive the letter. Mr Malhotra said the Council official has refuted the charge. However, he added: “if the letter had come to me I would have received it’’. Privilege Committee chairman Jugal Kishore also said the letter should have been received and he would find out whether the Council official has deliberately refused to take the letter “at someone’s behest’’. Col Singh said Gen Singh had also sent the same letter vide speed post No. AD249592406IN from OP Court I, Gurgaon (Haryana), where he was residing. This letter too had been addressed to the Council Secretary but the Council claim was that it too hasn’t been received so far. Worthwhile to mention here that the former Army chief had duly replied to Speaker Mubarak Gul’s notice well in time. Mr Gul had made the letter public. The Army chief has already refuted the allegations made by him that Army had made payments to Jammu and Kashmir Ministers. Meanwhile, the Privilege Committee of Legislative Council met positively at 11.30 am today but Gen Singh didn’t appear before it. The Committee headed by Jugal Kishore comprised Devender Singh Rana, MLC NC, Ghulam Nabi Monga and Ali Mohammad Dar. Two other members of the Committee including Ravinder Sharma, Congress and Showkat Ahmad Ganai, National Conference didn’t attend. Mr Kishore told the Excelsior that the Privilege Committee has decided to issue fresh summon to Gen Singh on January 22 to appear before it to explain the position. He said the Principal Secretary Home and the DGP Haryana have been asked get in touch with Gen Singh to convey fresh date of summon to him. Sources said differences have appeared in the National Conference and Congress on the issue of former Army chief. While the Congress members in the Privilege Committee were of the view that the members should have soft and genuine approach towards Gen Singh, who happened to be the former Army chief and had served the country very well but the NC MLCs wanted to go hard on Gen Singh. The six members Privilege Committee has three members each from NC and Congress including Jugal Kishore, Ravinder Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Monga from Congress, Devender Singh Rana, Ali Mohammad Dar and Showkat Ganai from NC. Mr Rana, Ajay Sadhotra, Minister for Planning and Development and Khalid Najib Suhrawardhy, former Minister of State for Home, all NC, were movers of the privilege motion against Gen Singh in the Council during autumn session of the House in Srinagar last October. Mr Rana told reporters after the Privilege Committee meeting this afternoon that the Panel has decided to issue summons to him (Gen Singh) through the Haryana Director General of Police to appear before this Committee on 22nd of this month at 2:30 pm. Mr Rana, who is a ruling National Conference MLC and former Political Advisor to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, said “failing this, necessary action under law which is available to us will be taken against him.” When Rana was asked about the claim of Col UB Singh, he said: “there is no reply we have received as yet.” On December 8, last year, Privileges Committee had asked Singh to appear in person before it on January 9 to explain his position on his controversial remarks. Giving details of today’s meeting, Mr Rana said: “the Committee met today under the chairmanship of Jugal Kishore Sharma. Gen V K Singh preferred not to appear before the Committee.” He directed that the copies of the summons be sent to the Chairman and officials of Haryana. “As per the summons issued now, the law is very clear on what all measures can be taken to secure his presence before the Committee,” Mr Rana said. Gen (Retd) Singh was summoned by the Committee to appear before it at around 11.45 am today, when the Marshal of Legislative Council took name of the former Army Chief at the Gate of Council complex in front of the media.