Former army officer Tejinder Singh, who was arrested on Monday, was on Friday granted bail by the Delhi high court in the case relating to his alleged offer of Rs 14 crore bribe to the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh for clearing file for procurement of Tatra all-terrain vehicles.
A bench of Justice Pratibha Rani trashed the apprehension of the Central Bureau of Investigation that the accused, who served on a very senior position in the army, has the capacity to influence the witnesses, saying the agency had never made any such complaint against him during the two-year-long probe.
It granted bail to Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and a surety of the like amount while imposing certain conditions including that he will not leave the country without prior permission of the trial court and “shall not try to contact any of the witnesses in any manner whatsoever during the trial of this case”.
“This plea (that Singh may influence witnesses) does not hold water for the simple reason that during the investigation of this case, which continued for about two years, the CBI never complained that the petitioner (Tejinder) indulged in any such activity,” it said, adding that the accused was free during the entire investigation.
Referring to various judgments, the court said it has been a settled legal position that if an accused has not been arrested during the probe and has roots in the society then he should not be arrested after filing of the chargesheet. “I am of the considered view that the petitioner deserved to be enlarged on bail. Accordingly, it is directed that petitioner be released on bail on his furnishing of personal bond in the sum of Rs 1 lakh with one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court,” it said. The court had on Thursday reserved its order on the bail plea of Tejinder Singh.
Besides former law minister Kapil Sibal, a battery of lawyers including Geeta Luthra, Dayan Krishnan and Pramod K Dubey had appeared for Tejinder Singh. The former army officer had moved the high court for bail on September 1 after the Special CBI judge ordered his arrest and sent him to judicial custody till September 20. Tejinder Singh had appeared in the lower court following the summons issued against him in the case.
The lower court had taken cognizance of the chargesheet on August 28 after relying upon the statements of the then Defence Minister A K Antony, V K Singh and other witnesses whose testimonies were recorded by CBI during the probe.
In its chargesheet, CBI had alleged that Tejinder Singh met V K Singh in his office in South Block on September 22, 2010, and during the meeting, he had offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to V K Singh for clearing the file of Tatra vehicles by first week of October.
The counsel for Tejinder Singh had said he has been a man of integrity and should have been enlarged on bail by the trial court itself as he was never arrested during the probe.
The CBI, however had vehemently opposed the submissions of the accused saying, “the practice of granting bail on filing of chargesheet does not entitle an accused to be granted bail. The gravity of the offence alleged against the accused has to be considered.”
The agency had also referred to the statements of the then army chief Singh and Antony to support its submission that the allegation against Tejinder Singh were grave in nature.