The government on Wednesday broke its silence on the move of Army Chief General V.K. Singh of dragging it to court on the age issue, terming it “unfortunate.”

Two days after Gen. Singh petitioned the Supreme Court, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said: “it is an unfortunate development and not a healthy precedent either for the [Defence] Ministry or the armed forces.”

The Minister said this on the sidelines of a function organised by the National Cadet Corps in response to questions as to what the government was contemplating in the matter of sending the General on leave or appointing a new Chief.

Interestingly, while Mr. Raju chose to take questions on the issue, Defence Minister A.K. Antony avoided answering any queries in this regard from the media.

Soon after a brief function outside his South Block office, where a guard of honour was presented in honour of the visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, he did not respond.

The Ministry has ordered a clampdown on making any comment or even confirmation about reports, including purported meetings between the Minister and officials in the government, on the issue.

The public relations department of the Ministry has studiously avoided responding to any questions in this regard, with one senior official claiming that it is “out of the loop” on an issue that has generated widespread debate.

In a related development, the Army was represented by the Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen S.K. Singh, at the delegation-level meeting between India and Nepal. The Indian side was led by Mr. Antony and Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Gachhadar led the Nepalese side.

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