Antony, Chief blame Army for age row

The Army on Tuesday came under fire from both its Chief and the Defence Minister over the age row controversy.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Army on Tuesday came under fire from both its Chief and the Defence Minister over the age row controversy.

AK Antony blamed the Army for sitting on the controversy over General VK Singh`s date of birth for 36 years, and the Army Chief endorsed the minister’s view.

While maintaining that the government tried to resolve the controversy a number of times, the minister said it was the Army which sat over the dispute for over three decades.

"It happened unfortunately, maybe without any motive, but for 36 years the Army maintained two dates of birth... That is why this controversy occurred," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of an awards function here.

He stated that the dispute came before the government only in recent years, adding the controversy was not due to the government.

"Two branches of Army maintained two different dates of births and nobody noticed it for 36 years. For the first time in 2006 it came to notice and the then Army Chief took a decision and told the government. Again in 2008, the then Army General gave another recommendation and government accepted it," he said.

Antony said the government only accepted what the then Army Chiefs recommend during different years and thought that the controversy was over and data amended accordingly.

"We thought it is over but again complaint came to the government last year. Then government took a decision referring it to Law Ministry and Attorney General thrice… that is the only way government can function," the minister said.

Responding to questions over the Army Chief suing the Union government in Supreme Court over the age controversy, Antony said that everyone has the right to question the government’s decision.

He however rejected claims that the row was becoming a civil-military confrontation.

Let’s wait for a few days or few weeks and let the Supreme Court take a decision, he said.

"The issue has now gone beyond the government and whatever Supreme Court decides will be final. All should be mentally prepared to accept the decision," he added.

Antony’s remarks came just days after the Defence Ministry wrote to the Army’s Adjutant General branch, asking it to correct Gen Singh`s date of birth on its records as May 10, 1950 ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on February 3 and not a year later as contended by him.

In the letter, the Defence Ministry asked the AG branch to have May 10, 1950 as Army Chief`s date of birth and sought a compliance report in this regard at the earliest possible.

While the AG’s branch has maintained Gen Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951, the Military Secretary’s branch records it as May 10, 1950.