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Army Chief's age row: 'I feel sorry and sad about whole controversy', says Antony

New Delhi, Fri, 20 Jan 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Jan 20 (ANI): Stating that the government is keeping maximum restraint and patience on the ongoing issue surrounding the date of birth of Army Chief General V.K. Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Friday said he is 'sorry and sad' about the whole controversy.


"You know my position always. I am always against public controversy on this issue. This is not an issue for celebration. In fact, I feel sorry and sad about the whole controversy. That is why in spite of some times being misunderstood, I was keeping silence because I believe that this is not an issue that can be decided on public platform or public debate," Antony told mediapersons here.


"Our government is keeping maximum restraint and patience because this kind of issue we cannot handle in a sensational manner through public debate," he added.


The Defence Minister further urged everyone to wait patiently for the verdict of the Supreme Court of India on the issue.


"Ours is a great democracy, there are constitutional forums to question the decision of the government. This decision is now questioned; now the matter is before the Highest Court of India, Supreme Court of India. Let us wait for the final verdict of the Supreme Court of India," he said.


Defence Minister Antony and Union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid had earlier this week met the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to discuss the pros and cons of the Army Chief's action.


Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, met Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju earlier on Thursday after the latter expressed his unhappiness over the matter being taken to the Supreme Court.


Pallam Raju had earlier on Wednesday termed the Army Chief's decision to move the Supreme Court over the issue concerning his date of birth as "unfortunate" and an appalling precedent for the army.


"I don't want to touch on this very sensitive issue, but all that I can say that it is an unfortunate development and it is not a healthy precedent either for the Ministry or the Armed Forces," he said.


In an unprecedented move, General V.K. Singh moved the Supreme Court on Monday against the government's rejection of his claim on his date of birth.


The government, however, filed a caveat in the Supreme Court on Tuesday against any ex-parte order on the petition of General V.K. Singh challenging the decision over his date of birth.


General V.K. Singh is believed to have questioned the government's decision to treat his date of birth, as May 10,1950 instead of May 10,1951 as claimed by him on the basis of his matriculation certificate and other documents, in his writ petition filed in the apex court.


According to certain reports, the controversy stemmed from different sets of records in the Adjutant General and Military Secretary branches of the Indian Army Headquarters.


While the Adjutant General's branch that deals with pay, perks and pensions maintains 1951 as his year of birth, the Military Secretary branch that deals with appointments and promotions has 1950 in its records.


The Ministry of Defence had earlier rejected Army Chief General V. K. Singh's statutory complaint seeking a correction of his date of birth in the army records.


According to reports, General Singh has been conveyed that that he will have to retire from service on May 31, 2012 on completion of his two-year tenure.


General Singh, who has consistently claimed that he was born in 1951 and not 1950 as maintained, had in his statutory complaint asked the Defence Ministry to consider May 10, 1951 as his date of birth.


The Army Chief had earlier filed the statutory complaint with Defence Minister A. K. Antony after the government issued an order on July 21 in which it said that it will consider May 10, 1950 as his date of birth. (ANI)


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