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Age row: No compromise with Army chief, say government sources

Age row: No compromise with Army chief, say government sources
New Delhi Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday said that the "unfortunate controversy" over Army Chief General VK Singh's age had come to an end with the Supreme Court judgement and asked his colleagues to close the chapter.

"I am very happy that this very unfortunate controversy is over. The judgement of the Supreme Court has come. I request my colleagues to please close this chapter and lets all work together to strengthen national security. National interest is supreme. Let us all work together," Mr Antony told reporters.

Asked if General Singh has offered to resign in the wake of the judgement, Mr Antony said, "Government has confidence in the present chief and that was conveyed to the Supreme Court also."

The Supreme Court last week had ruled that the government decision on General Singh's date of birth will apply to his service matters, forcing him to withdraw his petition. The Supreme court had, however, clarified that the judgement does not reflect on the competence and capability of the Army chief.

The court said it found "no error or prejudice" in the government's decision. It also underscored that in 2008, when he was up for a big promotion, the General accepted the government's decision to maintain 1950 as his year of birth.

There were reports that Mr Antony was very upset by the General's decision to battle the government in court over his age. In fact, sources had said that the ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, the government had ruled out any compromise with General Singh after being advised by Mr Antony and others that its legal case is strong.

The Army chief had said that the government has mistakenly rejected his requests to change its records, accepting that he was born in 1951 and not 1950. Documents with the Army list both years. He had said that several crucial documents establish that he tried at different points in his career to have his records amended to reflect the correct date of birth, but was turned down. The government counters that he accepted several key promotions, including the one that gave him the top job in the Army, on the basis of his seniority as established by records that show he was born in 1950.
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