Army Chief meets Def Secy; Govt says moving SC unhealthy

Army Chief meets Def Secy; Govt says moving SC unhealthy

Amid the face-off over the age issue, Army Chief Gen V K Singh today met Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma even as the government expressed unhappiness over the "unhealthy precedent" set by the head of the force by going to court.

Gen Singh met Sharma in the latter's office for about 30 minutes but it was not clear as to what exactly transpired, sources said.

The meeting came against the backdrop of unhappiness in the government over the Army Chief approaching the Supreme Court to settle his date of birth dispute.

"It is an unfortunate development and it is not a healthy precedent either for the (Defence) Ministry or the armed forces... It is an unhealthy precedent. It does not auger well either for the Ministry or the forces," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters.

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.

Significantly, Gen Singh was conspicuous by his absence in a delegation-level meeting Defence Minister A K Antony had with Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Bijay Gachhadar. Instead, Vice Chief Lt Gen Shri Krishna Singh attended the meeting.

Asked if the government is embarrassed with Gen Singh dragging it to the apex court on the date of birth issue, Raju said, "It is not a matter for public debate."

Gen 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.

Sources said the government was also not happy over the leakage to media of the communications between the Army Headquarters and the Ministry.

This comes in the context of a letter written by the Army Chief to the Defence Minister on why he approached the Supreme Court on his age issue.