Law Ministry clears confusion over Army chief's age

The Law Ministry has opined that Singh's correct date of birth is May 10, 1951, and not May 10, 1950 which he had accepted after controversy about his age surfaced around 2008 when he was being considered for appointment as Eastern Army Commander.

The Army, for replying to RTI queries about the age of its top-level officers, had through the Defence Ministry sought Law Ministry's opinion if the date of birth mentioned in the matriculation certificate could be used for ascertaining correct age. "The Law Ministry answered in affirmative saying the correct age of Army chief should be May 10, 1951 as the matriculation certificate is the valid document for date of birth proof," Defence Ministry sources said here.

The Army chief's date of birth varies in records of the Adjutant General's and Military Secretary's branches. The AG branch, the official record keeper for salary and pension, has May 10, 1951 as Singh's date of birth but the Military Secretary's (MS) branch, in charge of promotions and postings, records his date of birth as May 10, 1950.

General Singh is supposed to retire on June 1, 2012 but if this date of birth is accepted, he may get an extension of around one year in office. As per rules, an Army Chief can serve for three years or up to the age of 62, whichever is earlier.

"The Ministry is still studying the situation," the officials said when asked if the Ministry has also accepted the Law Ministry opinion, which may give an extended tenure to Singh. Following the confusion, the Army Chief had told the Defence Ministry that he did not have any knowledge about MS branch records having a different date of birth.
The varying date of birth of Singh in Military Secretary's branch had come up at the time when Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash was heading it.

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