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General claims court victory

delhi Updated: Feb 12, 2012 00:59 IST
Shishir Gupta & Rahul Singh
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Despite the Supreme Court disposing of as withdrawn his petition on the age row, army chief Gen VK Singh on Saturday claimed victory.

Singh said the court had “upheld what he had been writing as his age based on May 10, 1951 as date of birth and at the same time stated that the age decided by the government (1950 as date of birth) was for service purposes only”.

Preparing for a five-day UK tour from Monday, Singh told HT, “We stood up for something right and appropriate, according to the well laid out principles of justice.”

He said the canards spread by vested interests had been laid to rest and “at least my honour has been redeemed”.

Quoting Ernest Hemingway, Singh said: “Few men for the right cause brave the disrespect of their fellowmen, censor of their colleagues and ignorance of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields out painfully to change.”

Singh’s UK tour indicates he has no immediate plans, if any, of resigning after losing the age battle in court. The defeat had triggered speculation that he may quit.

The army chief caught the UPA leadership by surprise on January 16 when he moved Supreme Court to have his year of birth declared as 1951 as opposed to 1950 determined by the Centre.

Top government sources said Singh could still spring a surprise.

There is a sense within the government that Singh’s successor be named as soon as possible, rather than announcing it two months before his retirement as is customary. He retires on May 31.

In the US and UK, new service chiefs are named six to 12 months in advance.

“It keeps the successor in the decision-making loop and nips all uncertainty about who’s next. The government has in the past announced new chiefs before the customary two-month period,” said a top bureaucrat.