|Antony and (below) Singh
New Delhi, Jan. 31: In a peculiar turn of events today, defence minister has blamed the Indian Army and army chief Gen. V.K. Singh has also blamed his army for stirring the row over his age.
The case, Gen. Singh vs the Union of India, is slated to be heard by the Supreme Court this Friday.
Its been 36 years but the government was not in picture. It was only known to the army. In 2006, the army noticed two dates of birth, then it went to the level of army chief (Gen. J.J. Singh, now retired and the governor of Arunachal Pradesh). The government of that day took a decision and recommended it to the army. Where is the civil-military controversy? In 2008 it was another army chief (Gen. Deepak Kapoor, now retired) and then the recommendation was sent to the government and the government accepted that, A.K. Antony said.
Commenting on the defence ministers observation, Gen. Singh admitted: Yes, it is a problem in the army... he is right. He added: Problems should have been sorted out. There was a problem of co-ordination between two branches. I had said earlier also that steps have been taken to ensure that such things will never recur in future.
The military secretary records Gen. Singhs date of birth as May 10, 1950, and the adjutant-generals documents show it as May 10, 1951. Both are branches of the Army Headquarters.
It has gone beyond the government. Let us wait for the Supreme Court decision. That will be final and nobody can question that, Antony said.
In his petition to the Supreme Court, Gen. Singh has cited his matriculation certificate among other documents as proof of his date of birth that he insists is May 10, 1951. But the ministry has gone by the military secretary branch records showing it as May10, 1950.
The settlement of the dispute will impact not only on Gen. Singhs tenure but also on who succeeds him.
Like in 2006, in 2008 also, AHQ (Army Headquarters) at their level reconciled it (the dates) and sent it to the government, which accepted that. What else the government could do? Antony said. The government had thought that all controversies were reconciled, at least by 2009 and thought everything is over but again a complaint came in 2011, he added.
The defence minister said the government took the decisions on the advice of the law ministry and the attorney-general. That is the only way the government can function. What else could we do? the defence minister said in his most detailed response to the row.
Now that the matter is in the Supreme Court, he said let us have some patience and not make this a controversy again and again. This is now beyond the government and we have no control over it. Let us all mentally-prepare to accept the decision whatever it may be. That will be the final decision of the Supreme Court of India.
The army chief said that the defence ministry letter last week to the adjutant-general asking him to settle his date of birth at the 1950 date was being processed. There is no confrontation. There is a due process, these things take time, he said.