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Age row: Govt files caveat in SC

NEW DELHI: The government today filed a caveat in the Supreme Court against any ex-parte order on the petition of Army Chief Gen V K Singh challenging the decision over his date of birth.

An application was filed by the Ministry of Defence urging the apex court not to pass any order on Singh's petition without hearing it. The caveat was filed through counsel T A Khan.

Gen Singh had yesterday taken the unprecedented step of dragging the government to the Supreme Court on his age row saying it was an issue of his "honour and integrity".

He filed a writ petition in the apex court after exhausting all statutory options within the Defence Ministry which had recently rejected his contention that he was born in 1951 and not 1950.

The petition challenges the July 21, 2011, order of the Defence Ministry which fixed the date of birth as May 10, 1950, and the December 30, 2011, decision by which his statutory complaint was rejected.

He has sought a direction for declaring May 10, 1951, as the correct date of birth.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the matter.

It was not clear as to what exactly transpired at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting came a day after Gen Singh filed a writ petition in the apex court challenging the Defence Ministry's rejection of his contention that his date of birth should be May 10,1951 and not May 10,1950 as fixed.

As per the government's decision, Gen Singh will retire on May 31 this year.

Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, who was in Malaysia on a visit, was also called back in view of the development related to Army Chief's action. PTI

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Laxman has no plans to retire: Teammates

PERTH: He might be drawing flak for his flop show in the ongoing Test series against Australia but veteran Indian batsman VVS Laxman has no plans of hanging up his boots just yet.

Contrary to reports in India and some scathing reactions by experts and former cricketers back home, a fellow cricketer said, "He (Laxman) is not retiring yet. The impression that he has given to us is that he would inform everyone well in advance if he is to retire."

Laxman carried this impression of defiance to the nets on Tuesday at WACA as he strode out purposefully in the middle and had an extended batting session in sweltering heat.

And later at the press conference Indian opener Gautam Gambhir also jumped to Laxman's defence, saying, "My question is why one person? The top seven batters are equally to blame. We have failed as a unit, why then Laxman alone?

"He is a legend of Indian cricket. He has served Indian cricket for a very, very long time. There shouldn't be anyone who would be deciding. It should be him and him alone who should do so.

"If criticism has to happen, it should happen not to one person but to the entire batting unit who have let the team down. Neither media, fans nor former cricketers would decide if he is to retire. He is still working very hard, it's matter of just one innings and his confidence would be back."

Laxman has made a mere 102 runs from six innings at an average of 17. He was equally abysmal in India's previous tour of England last summer when he made 182 runs from eight innings at an average of 22.75.

His series of failures with the bat have led to whispers in media, by "a senior board official" and reports by "informed sources" that Laxman would retire by the time the Adelaide Test begins on January 24.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, now sidelined due to ban for slow over-rate, has been non-committal too when asked about Laxman's so-called imminent retirement plans.

"As of now, there is nothing I know of officially. I wouldn't like to answer when there is a big if and a big but. I don't know from where it has come. Till Laxman comes and tells me, I wouldn't like to speculate on it," Dhoni had said after the WACA Test.

Laxman's long-term teammate Rahul Dravid was equally defiant in defence of his colleague.

"I don't think the talk (of his removal) has affected him much. I haven't read and Lax is not bothered either. It's part and parcel of our job. You got to accept it while you continue to play. That's the way it goes. He is a pretty relaxed character and I'm sure he would come good in one of these Tests," Dravid had said.

The only Test now left for Laxman to prove himself is Adelaide where he has scripted one of his most glorious chapters for Indian cricket.

Laxman once made 148 at the Adelaide Oval in 2003, bringing about a most spectacular turnaround in the annals of world cricket. Australia though scored 556, they still lost, thanks to a 303-run fifth wicket stand between Laxman and Dravid, which occupied the full third day and laid the basis of a four-wicket win.

Remarkably, Laxman has been equally good in One-day Internationals at this venue. In the only ODI game he played in Adelaide in 2004, he scored 131 against Zimbabwe.

Laxman has so far played 133 Tests and scored 8728 runs at 46.18 with 17 centuries.  PTI

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2 special flights to Srinagar today

New Delhi: As flights to Srinagar remained cancelled due to bad weather on Monday, Air India has decided to operate two special flights to Jammu and Kashmir capital on Tuesday to bring back stranded passengers.

"Air India will operate two special flights, one at 10.15 am and another at 1 pm, from Delhi to Srinagar and back on Tuesday to bring passengers stranded there as flights were cancelled on Monday due to bad weather there," an Air India spokesperson said. he airline has asked the passengers to contact its helpline or toll free numbers, visit website or travel agent for details. Air India operates a daily flight to Srinagar.

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