The Centre on Tuesday filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to prevent Army chief V.K. Singh from getting any ex parte order in the writ petition filed by him challenging the Defence Ministry's order fixing his date of birth as May 10, 1950, instead of treating it as May 10, 1951, even as the government considered various options to end the controversy.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony is believed to have discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Amid speculation in sections of the media, knowledgeable sources in the government maintained that nothing dramatic should be expected immediately.
On Monday Gen. Singh filed the petition seeking to quash the Ministry's order by which he would retire this year. Advocate T.A. Khan filed the caveat on behalf of the Ministry to ensure that the government was also heard before any order was passed. The court is yet to fix the date of hearing for Gen. Singh's petition.
In his petition, the Army Chief maintained that the date of birth was already concluded as May 10, 1951 once the police verified the DOB at the time of joining the service. He said the DOB of May 10, 1951 mentioned in the Matriculation Certificate was sacrosanct and this had to be treated as conclusive proof.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea filed in support of the Army Chief's contention a few weeks back is listed for hearing before a Bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia on September 20.
The Congress said the government position on the issue was based on written legal opinion and it would have been better if the Army Chief had not approached the court.
Party spokesperson Abhishekh Singhvi charged the Opposition parties with doing a ‘disservice' to the country by sensationalising the issue. Asked about the petition filed by the Army Chief, Mr. Singhvi said that it was for the court to take a decision.
The BJP blamed the government for the row. “The controversy shows the failure of statecraft of the Government of India in the handling of the age-related matter of the Army Chief,” BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the very fact the issue required judicial intervention showed complete erosion of the credibility of the government.