Date: 20 Jan 2012


Subject: PM STEERS CLEAR ,GEN MEET MOS DEFENCE \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday refused to comment on the controversy around the date of birth of Indian Army Chief General V K Singh.The Prime Minister, however, said that the issue was a sensitive one."It is a sensitive issue. I do not want to comment," the Prime Minister said on the sidelines of a function to launch the book 'The Tribune 13 Years: A Witness to History. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ The evasiveness of the Prime Minister came on the eve of the hearing by the Supreme Court of a public interest litigation (PIL) by the Grenadiers association on the age row.The petition has been filed in support of General Singh by ex-servicemen.Meanwhile, a day after Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju expressed displeasure at the army chief moving the court on the issue, he met General Singh on Thursday.Though the details of the meeting were not known, it is believed that things were clarified between the army chief and the Minister of State.Raju had on Wednesday said that an "unhealthy precedent" was set by the army chief by moving the Supreme Court against the government.General Singh, a para-commando and veteran of 1971 Indo-Pak war, has been contending that May 10, 1951 should be treated as his actual date of birth as it was mentioned in his matriculation certificate but the Defence Ministry has rejected it as May 10, 1950 is the date entered in his UPSC form for the NDA.If General Singh's date of birth is taken as May 10, 1951 then he will retire in March 2013 and if May 10, 1950 is accepted then his tenure will come to an end in May 2012. The difference of one year will have an affect on who will succeed him as the next Army Chief.If he retires on May 31, 2012 then Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Bikram Singh will take over as the next Army Chief, but if he demits office in March 2013 then Northern Army commander Lieutenant General KT Parnaik could take over from him as Lt Gen Bikram Singh will retire later in 2012.But if General Singh is removed or resigns before May 31, 2012, then Western Command Chief Lieutenant General Shankar Ghosh, who is the senior most serving officer in the Army, will take on as the 27th Chief of the Indian Army. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Veterans’ age row petition in SC today \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ New Delhi, Jan. 19: The Supreme Court is expected to hear a petition from former soldiers tomorrow that questions whether the government can decide the age of a citizen that is not in keeping with the date of birth on the school leaving certificate.The government today filed a caveat with the Supreme Court in anticipation of the hearing. The caveat means that the government has requested the apex court not to pass an order without hearing it.The government had also filed a caveat a day after the army chief went to court. But the caveat on the PIL has come more than a month after it was filed.The PIL is to be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia.The admission or non-admission of the public interest litigation initiated by the Grenadiers’ Association (Rohtak Chapter) will be watched closely because it also seeks a Supreme Court order to restrain the government from “changing” the age of the army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh.Unlike the petition by the chief himself that details the paperwork through which Gen. Singh sought a reconciliation of records, the PIL raises questions on the impact that a mismatch in service records can have on citizens.The PIL also says that the dispute over Gen. Singh’s age was putting pressure on the chief of an army that has to contend with potential adversaries on India’s international borders.Gen. Singh has not associated himself with the PIL. His petition is yet to be listed.The government was preparing for a legal battle. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asked for his response to the army chief challenging the government in court, refused to comment. “It is a very sensitive issue,” was all that he would say.In the defence ministry, too, there is a gag order. “We are treating the matter as sub judice. Whatever happens will happen in court,” one official said.Pallam Raju, the minister of state for defence, who yesterday had described the army chief’s move as “unfortunate” and a “bad precedent”, is understood to have met Gen. Singh today.“Our work is continuing as routine,” an official said when asked if a trust deficit was increasing between the ministry and the army chief.Another official said there was still a possibility of a compromise. Since the army chief had not mentioned his case in court to seek an urgent hearing, there was time for a senior minister and a high official to continue to engage with him in search of a settlement.Gen. Singh and the chiefs of the navy and air force yesterday evening attended a reception hosted by defence minister A.K. Antony for the visiting deputy Prime Minister and defence minister of Nepal.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ THE PIONEER \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Army chiefs and courts\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Author: Manvendra Singh\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ In both India and Pakistan, the Chief of Army Staff, in person or in shadow, has sought the intervention of the Supreme Court against the civilian Government.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ In one of those quirks of history, the most frequently warring neighbours are both riveted before their respective Supreme Courts. And in both cases before the court is the Chief of Army Staff, in person or in shadow. If one is on account of political malfeasance towards the Chief of Army Staff, a besieged Chief of Army Staff attempting a coup de court against a defiant political system inspires the other. In both cases someone is ‘showing the eye’, the ultimate South Asian expression of defiance. If General VK Singh is ‘showing the eye’, it is on account of a dishonest political leadership that has been consistent in its deceit. And Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is compelled to ‘show the eye’ because of the tricks being played by a GHQ that is fighting for its status of sole arbitrator. This is where the similarities end, however, for the role played by the respective Supreme Courts in India and Pakistan has been polar in its difference.The long-simmering row between the Government of India and its Chief of Army Staff is now reaching a climax with the latter taking the issue to the Supreme Court. The Government has been seriously insincere in its handling of the matter, purely on account of its own motivated interests. And there is ample evidence to suggest that the political portion of the Government has motivated interests in this matter. Army officers are easy with their criticism of the bureaucrats who run the Ministry of Defence and are given to blaming the babu at the drop of a pen, as in the row over the Army Chief’s age. Often the criticism is valid, but sometimes it’s way off the mark, as in this case. The root of the problem is the political manipulation of Army institutions to suit their own vested interests. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ The Government manipulated an internal Army matter and made it snowball into a controversy that never was in the Sukna land transfer case. Had the Government’s intentions been honest, it would not have moved against senior Army officers when not an inch of land had changed hands. In that episode were the seeds of the age row planted. The decision to promote Gen Singh from Army Commander to Chief of Army Staff was taken by the political authorities. Such decisions are taken on the basis of confidential reports about integrity, authority and seniority. The Chief of Army Staff is privy to, and guardian of, the most important military matters. The level of clearance is the highest possible, for such is the nature of the job. And that job comes from the confidence that the Government has vested in him. It is on account of trust that an officer becomes the Chief of Army Staff.So, if the officer has a discrepancy in his records, and has petitioned for it to be cleared, doesn’t it behoove that ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ which the Government had in plenty when it promoted him that it takes his word for it? Gen Singh can be trusted with top secret military matters, but not when it comes to him declaring his date of birth? He can be trusted to wage war for his country, but not when he wants to clear a discrepancy in his documents? For, there is a genuine discrepancy and the Govern-ment has its own motivation to not clear the matter according to institutional norms. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ The records of all Army personnel are the purview of the Adjutant-General’s Branch. Promotions and postings are the responsibility of the Military Secretary’s Branch. It so happens that often the twain doesn’t meet. Gen Singh is not the first officer of the Army who has discrepancies in his date of birth, and with matters not having been resolved to institutional benefit, his will not be the last such case. Hundred of officers have served and retired from the Army with different documents for their date of birth. Many have tried to clear their messy documents, but some haven’t even bothered to attempt doing so on account of the inertia inherent in the military bureaucracy.The Government could have cleared up this mess for future generations of Army officers, but it did not do so as it was not interested. Its motives become clear from its actions; in this case, the Defence Minister and his boss have been mendacious. Their preference for a preconceived outcome has made them recognise a document that should never have had legal sanction. In the process, the sanctity of Army institutions has taken a hit for the Adjutant-General’s Branch is now not the repository of trust, which can safely look after personal documents of commissioned officers. To suit its end results, the Government has decided that the preferred choice for personnel documentation is the Military Secretary’s Branch, to hell with institutional sanctity, integrity, heritage and procedures. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Which is also something that the brave Government of Pakistan is violating in its eyeball-to-eyeball situation with a GHQ in the shadows, an Imran Khan on the streets, and a Supreme Court eager to please the Army. That’s in stark contrast to the situation in India. In its brave defiance of military threats, the Government of Pakistan is matched by its principal Opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and the National Assembly as a whole. The role of Mr Nawaz Sharif has been one of the best-kept secrets of this episode. His commitment to the procedures of democracy is a result of his suffering at the hands of a military dictatorship. It has been his behind-the-scene backing of the Government that has resulted in an overwhelming National Assembly sentiment against military intervention, which is really what the game-plan has been.From the Operations Rooms of the various Corps, to the GHQ in Rawalpindi, the plot has been to unseat this Govern-ment and get Mr Imran Khan into power. The Gilani Government may well be unpopular, and President Asif Ali Zardari could well be a reviled man, but constitutionally they are the power centres of Pakistan at a time when the image of the Army has taken a beating of significant consequences. From the midnight raid on Abbottabad to snatch Osama bin Laden, the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran in Karachi, to finally the US marking November 26 with an attack on a border post in Mohmand Agency. To top it all, civilians are now ‘showing the eye’, which the Supreme Court has to take into account. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ (With Additional Inputs from PTI) -- \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ FOR PRINT MEDIA DEFENCE RELATED NEWS CLICK ON THIS HEADING FOR SANJHA MORCHA BLOG \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ With Warm Regards Gen Secy\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ (Sanjha Morcha) ========================================= 000000000