A day after army chief General VK Singh dragged the Centre to the Supreme Court over his age row, the government on Tuesday closed ranks to plan a counter-strategy, indicating a further hardening of its stand.
While the government’s law officers scrambled to Supreme Court to file a caveat requesting it not to pass any judgment without listening to its version, the defence and law ministers met the prime minister to figure out the next steps.
Gen Singh’s petition is likely to be mentioned before the SC as an ‘urgent matter’ later this week.
The caveat will allow the government’s version to be heard on the very first hearing of his petition. However, the petition is yet to come to the stage of being admitted — or accepted — by the court for hearing. Singh has filed a petition under article 32 of the Constitution, guaranteeing fundamental rights.
In a related development, the Centre called back defence secretary Shashikant Sharma, who was on an official visit to Malaysia.
The age controversy took another political turn with the BJP accusing the government of handling the matter badly. The Congress said it would have “been better if the army chief had not gone to court”. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also said parties should not sensationalise the matter.
Singh has been fighting a protracted battle to effect a change in his date of birth from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951. He moved court on Monday after the defence ministry rejected his statutory complaint on December 30 to change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951. This could have extended the chief’s tenure by almost a year and changed the complexion of the army hierarchy.