Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh’s affidavit in the Supreme Court was filed in his personal capacity. Those, who are familiar with the story, know only too well that he had made the same statement before the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2012. Since the case is now being heard by the apex court after the appeal was rejected by the Assam High Court, he has merely repeated his contention. In other words, there is nothing new in the affidavit. Nonetheless, the status of the persons concerned has changed significantly since 2012.
General VK Singh, who has been accused of making “false, baseless and imaginary” allegations is now a Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry. General Dalbir Singh is now the Chief of Army Staff. Few people would be aware of the circumstances in which the Army Chief has made the allegations against his former boss. Nor will they understand how the case came up before the Supreme Court. However, what everybody would understand is that serious charges have been made against a Union minister by the serving Army Chief. Since the minister deals with external affairs, his credibility among the foreign diplomatic corps will become suspect. In other words, the spat between the two cannot be dismissed as a fight between two individuals to redeem their honour.
Since the issue is before the court, we will not go into the merits of the case. It is up to the court now to accept or reject General Suhag’s allegation that he was victimised by his former boss. Similarly, the court will decide if the petitioner, a retired army officer, was unfairly sidestepped for the top job. It is obvious that after everything is said and done, all the parties to the case are fighting for their honour. But, they are or were army officers and washing dirty linen in public like this is not in the interest of the army. The institution is bigger than any General. It is time the government intervened to prevent them from demoralising the army.