Laying the blame on the army’s doors for the controversy over Gen V K Singh’s age issue, Defence Min A K Antony has said it occurred because the force kept two sets of his date of birth for 36 years and maintained there was no civil-military confrontation.
“For 36 years, two branches of the same institution maintained two dates of birth and that is why this controversy,” he told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday in his first detailed comments on the raging controversy that is before the Supreme Court now.
“It is unfortunate that it took years together but I don’t agree with some of you that it is a civil-military controversy,” Antony added.
He suggested that the government had no role to play in the whole issue as this discrepancy was first noticed in 2006 by the Army headquarters and reconciled at that level then and later in 2008 by two respective chiefs.
Antony said from 2006 to 2009, the Army Headquarters (AHQ) handled and reconciled the age issue at their level and the government accepted their recommendations and had no role to play in it.
“It (two dates of birth) was noticed by the AHQ in 2006 and then it was reconciled at the level of the then Army chief (Gen J J Singh). Army took a decision and conveyed it to the government. I was not there but the government of the day took a decision on the basis of recommendations of the Army,” he said.
The Defence Minister said when the issue came up again in 2008, the AHQ at the level of the then Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor had reconciled the matter and the government accepted the recommendations of the force.
“Like in 2006, in 2008 also, AHQ at their level reconciled it and sent it to the government, which accepted that. What else the government could do?” he said.
Antony said after accepting recommendations of the AHQ on the matter in 2009, “the government had thought that all controversies were reconciled, at least by 2009 and thought everything is over but again a complaint came in 2011.”
He said after receiving the complaint in 2011, the government took three decisions on basis of the opinions given by the Law Ministry and the Attorney General and “that is the only way the government can function”.
The Minister said that now that the government decision on the issue has been questioned in the Supreme Court, “let us have some patience and not make this a controversy again and again.”
“This is now beyond the government and we have no control over it. Let us all mentally-prepare to accept the decision whatever it may be. That will be the final decision of the Supreme Court of India,” he said.