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No thoughts of going to court yet: Army Chief

In an effort to clear the controversy surrounding his date of birth, Army Chief General VK Singh has denied any confrontation with the government and said that he has 'not yet' thought of moving court, a report said today.

delhi Updated: Jan 05, 2012 08:11 IST
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In an effort to clear the controversy surrounding his date of birth, Army Chief General VK Singh has denied any confrontation with the government and said that he has 'not yet' thought of moving court, a report said on Thursday.

Gen Singh told the daily that he has been appointed by the government and is committed to working for the organisation. On taking legal recourse and approcahing court, he said: “The thought has not occurred to me yet.”

The General also told the Indian Express, that the issue was 'personal' and he therefore refused to comment on the matter in the public domain.

“There is no rift, there is no confrontation. I have always felt that the government has appointed you and you will work for the organisation. Where is the row involved in this?”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday held a half hour one-to-one meeting with defence minister AK Antony in New Delhi.

Against the backdrop of the age controversy of Army Chief VK Singh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday reportedly held a half hour one-to-one meeting with defence minister AK Antony in New Delhi.

General Singh has been fighting a protracted battle to effect a change in his date of birth from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951. This could extend his tenure as army chief by almost a year and change the complexion of the army’s hierarchy.

In a setback for General Singh, the defence ministry last week rejected his statutory complaint to get his date of birth changed. The controversy arose in May 2006 when two different dates of birth were detected in the records of the Military Secretary’s branch (1950) and the Adjutant General’s branch (1951).

Former Punjab chief minister and state Congress president Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh has batted for Gen Singh in a letter written to defence minister AK Antony on his decision to reject the army chief's contention that his date of birth is May 10, 1951 and requesting that the official records be reconciled.

Amarinder Singh, in his letter to Antony, said that he backed the army chief's fight for his honour and for upholding his integrity and that the controversy was affecting the morale of the 1.13-million strong army.

The former Punjab chief minister also reportedly attacked former army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, saying politics played a large part in have this controversy brewing so that it benefits some individuals.

The discrepancy in Gen Singh’s date of birth in army records, he said, “seems to be part of some army headquarters politics geared to placing individuals in position to be future chiefs”, a reference to Lt. Gen Bikram Singh, the present Eastern Army Commander, who is touted to be the next chief based on his seniority when the present chief retires in May this year.

Asked about Amarinder Singh's letter to Antony, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was written by the former Punjab chief minister, a former army officer with own views on matters military, in his personal capacity.

Tewari's comments come even as Amarinder Singh himself clarified that he had written the letter in his individual capacity.

The age row has its genesis in the two different sets of records maintained by two different branches of the army headquarters that deal with personnel matters.

While the Adjutant General's branch, which is the official record keepers dealing with pay and perks, has 1951 as the army chief's year of birth, the Military Secretary branch that handles postings and promotions has 1950 as his year of birth.

The issue first came up in 2006, when finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister, even as the government was considering Gen Singh's name for promotion as a corps commander. Again, in 2008, when his name came up for promotion as army commander, the age issue once again reared its head.

On both occasions, the government maintained 1950 as the year of birth and accorded its approval for his promotion.

With these as the basis, Antony and the defence ministry has rejected a couple of times rejected Gen Singh's request for reconciling records to reflect 1951 as the year of birth.

As the army chief has now exhausted all options that are available for him to get his grievance redressed within the service, he has the option of either going to the Armed Forces Tribunal or the Supreme Court with his plea.