SC slaps contempt notice on former Army chief V K Singh

The Supreme Court on Wednesday initiated contempt proceedings against General V K Singh, probably the most controversial Army chief that India has had since Independence.

The apex court was irate over Gen Singh's reported remarks to the effect that it was ''pressurised'' into ruling against him in a case he filed over his official retirement age.

Calling Singh's remarks ''serious and unacceptable'', a Supreme Court bench of Justices H L Gokhale and R M Lodha directed the attorney general to frame contempt of court charges against the former Army chief.

''You cannot be allowed to scandalise the court like this. It is not permissible. We welcome criticism of our judgment but we don't welcome motives attributed to the court's judgment," the bench said.

The retired general, who has been lately dabbling in politics, has been asked to explain his position on 20 November.

The Supreme Court had on 1 October issued a suo moto contempt notice for criminal defamation against Gen Singh and the newspaper which printed his interview.

In an interview with news agency ANI on 21 September, Singh said that the court had not gone into the merits of the petition he had filed before them in January 2012 over his retirement age. He had claimed that Army records wrongly showed him to be a year older than he was.

"If the court can define the age of a rape victim on the basis of a matriculation certificate, then why has the Supreme Court failed to decide my age despite checking and cross checking my certificate?" Singh had told the interviewer.

"Knowing fully well that they were not going to give a decision since people were pressurizing them and asking them not to give it. So, the controversy was created," the general had said.

The court had withheld its judgment on Singh's age plea row on 10 February 10, giving him the option to withdraw his petition, which he did.

Singh, 63, who was present in the second row of the courtroom, remained silent during Wednesday's 20-minute proceedings.