A parliamentary panel Monday asked the three service chiefs to appear before it on April 20 for a detailed presentation on India's defence preparedness, on the heels of the army chief flagging concerns about weakening capabilities of his force to the prime minister in a leaked letter.
The development came on a day when the defence ministry sought to put to rest speculation about the alleged unusual movement of two army units towards the capital on the intervening night of January 16 and 17.
Defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma told the parliamentary standing committee on defence that the movement was a routine activity, which did not require any permission from the government. He is learnt to have told the panel that no standard operating procedures had been breached.
Several MPs were of the opinion that the 'coup' controversy should be put to rest after the ministry's clarification.
Though the committee has fixed April 20 for the proposed meeting with the chiefs, it is willing to show flexibility on the date to allow all the three chiefs to be present together.
The issue of India's defence preparedness came to the fore with the publication of army chief Gen VK Singh's secret letter dated March 12 to the PM. The chief had written that obsolete air defence systems, shortage of tank ammunition, ill-equipped special forces personnel and deficiencies in the night-fighting equipment had dented the army's capabilities.
The letter leak had flared up the tensions between the government and the army chief to an unprecedented level.
Vice chief of army staff Lt Gen SK Singh, who is understood to have informed the committee last week about deficiencies in the army's capability, appeared before the panel on Monday.