As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear the Army Chief age row, both Defence Minister AK Antony and Army Chief General Vijay Kumar Singh on Tuesday blamed the Army for the mess. Both Antony as well as General Singh said that the Army sat on the problem for 36 years and that the problem should not recur.
Antony said that the Supreme Court verdict on the controversy surrounding the date of birth of Army Chief will be final. Refusing to see the controversy as a civil-military conflict, Antony said that people responsible for maintaining the records will take the decision on General Singh’s date of birth.
“It’s gone beyond the government. Let’s wait for the Supreme Court decision. That will be final and nobody can question that,” said Antony in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“There are people responsible for that, (and) they will take the decision. At this stage it won’t come to me,” said the Defence Minister.
Antony pointed out that the controversy was not new and it had been festering for over 36 years.
“It’s 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 in 2006. 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 and then the recommendation was sent to the government and the government accepted that,” he said.
Reacting to the Defence Minister’s statement, Genral VK Singh said, “Yes, this problem has been within the Army. It shouldn’t have happened, but has continued for 36 years, and this problem will not recur ever again.”
“The letter from the Defence Ministry to the Adjutant General’s branch is being studied and reply will be given in due course,” he said.
“There was some problem in coordination between the branch that keeps all the service records and other branches. Now a system has been put in place to resolve the coordination problem. As a result, such problem will never recur,” General Singh said.
The Indian Army has two sets of records related to General Singh’s dates of birth leading to the controversy and forcing the Army Chief to move the Supreme Court to resolve the issue. The government has also filed a caveat in the Supreme Court on the petition moved by General Singh on his age row. Through the caveat, the government has sought that the court does not pass an order before hearing it.
While Adjutant General Branch, the official record keeper in the Army, manitains General Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951; in the Military Secretary Branch General Singh’s date of birth is May 10, 1950.
General Singh, a para-commando and veteran of 1971 Indo-Pak war, has been contending that May 10, 1951 should be treated as his actual date of birth as it was mentioned in his matriculation certificate but the Defence Ministry has rejected it as May 10, 1950 is the date entered in his UPSC form for the NDA.
If General Singh’s date of birth is taken as May 10, 1951 then he will retire in March 2013 and if May 10, 1950 is accepted then his tenure will come to an end in May 2012. The difference of one year will have an affect on who will succeed him as the next Army Chief.
If he retires on May 31, 2012 then Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Bikram Singh will take over as the next Army Chief, but if he demits office in March 2013 then Northern Army commander Lieutenant General KT Parnaik could take over from him as Lt Gen Bikram Singh will retire later in 2012.
But if General Singh is removed or resigns before May 31, 2012, then Western Command Chief Lieutenant General Shankar Ghosh, who is the senior most serving officer in the Army, will take on as the 27th Chief of the Indian Army.
-via IBN Live