General VK Singh and Army chief-designate Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag
New Delhi: An old legal case filed in the Supreme Court by a senior General against the next Army Chief is threatening to blow up into a major embarrassment for the new Narendra Modi government. It pits former Army Chief Gen VK Singh against the government, in which he is now a minister.
Here are the 10 latest developments
Lt Gen Ravi Dastane had in 2012 taken the government to court for denying him an army commander's post, alleging that such posts were being filled by breaching procedure. He had alleged "favouritism" in Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag being picked for Army Commander, despite facing serious charges. Gen Suhag is set to take over as the next Army chief on August 1. (General VK Singh vs Government over Next Army Chief)
In his case, Gen Dastane made reference to a show cause notice issued by then Army chief Gen VK Singh to Lt Gen Suhag in 2012, alleging an illegal raid and burglary by an Army unit under his command in the north-east.
On Monday, the government said in an affidavit filed in court in response to Gen Dastane's petition, that Gen Singh's actions as Army Chief against Lt Gen Dalbir Singh were "illegal", "extraneous" and "premeditated."
This was the same affidavit filed by the Ministry of Defence in the Armed Forces Tribunal where Gen Dastane had first filed his case in 2012. Apparently, under the new dispensation too, a view was taken that the contents of the affidavit should not change since it has been filed in an individual's case.
Gen VK Singh, now the Minister of State for North-east and External Affairs, challenged that in a tweet yesterday, saying, "If a unit kills innocents, does dacoity and then head of organization tries to protect them, should he not be blamed?Criminals should not go free!!"
Lt Gen Suhag's appointment as Army chief was cleared last month by the Congress-led UPA government in a controversial last-minute move. New Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said then that his party, the BJP, was opposed to the manner in which the appointment was announced, but repeatedly made it clear that it had no objection to Gen Suhag being appointed the next Army chief.
The Congress has demanded Gen VK Singh's removal in view of the government's affidavit. "After this vote of no confidence by the Government in a solemnly sworn affidavit against its own member of its council of ministers, is it possible for the minister in the union council to continue...I don't think in any view of the matter that the member of the council of ministers can continue. It is a matter of detail whether he is removed or resigns."
Gen V K Singh tweeted his response: "All who got carried away by Singhvi's tirade. Chhaj to bole so bole woh chhalni kya bole jismen 1800 chhed (pot calling the kettle black)...MOD affidavit same as it gave to AFT under protective and conniving UPA, so what is new folks?"
Gen V K Singh's critics have alleged that the show cause notice to Gen Dalbir in 2012 was an attempt to block his promotion as the Eastern Army Commander, which put him in line to be Army chief. Gen VK Singh's successor, Gen Bikram Singh, immediately reversed Gen VK Singh's decision and elevated Gen Dalbir as Eastern Army Commander.
Gen VK Singh contested the Lok Sabha elections as a BJP candidate from Ghaziabad, a Delhi suburb and won by a huge margin.