Army chief going to SC, unfortunate dev: Govt

New Delhi: Government today termed the action of Army chief Gen V K Singh going to the Supreme Court for settlement of his age issue as an "unfortunate development" and "not a healthy precedent".

Describing the matter as sensitive, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said, "It is an unfortunate development and it is not a healthy precedent either for the (Defence) Ministry or the armed forces."

He was replying to a question on the sidelines of an NCC function here on whether the government is planning to send the Army Chief on leave or if it is looking at the possibility of appointing a new chief.

Asked if the government is embarrassed with Singh dragging it to the apex court on the date of birth issue, he said, "It is not a matter for public debate. It is an unhealthy precedent. It does not auger well either for the Ministry or the forces."

Singh moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the government`s rejection of his claim on his date of birth.

The Defence Ministry had recently rejected his contention that he was born in 1951 and not in 1950. In its recent order, the Ministry has taken his date of birth as May 10, 1950, and not May 10, 1951, which the General has claimed as real as per his matriculation certificate.

Government had on Tuesday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court requesting that it be heard before passing of any order on the writ petition filed by Singh.

Defence Minister A K Antony and Law Minister Salman Khurshid had a held a meeting on Tuesday with the Prime Minister to discuss the pros and cons of the Army chief`s action. But there was no official word on what the government`s strategy would be.

However, there was speculation that Singh may be asked to proceed on leave pending the apex court`s view on his petition. But there was no confirmation of such a course from the Ministry.