Row over Army chief's birth date

Row over Army chief's birth date

 As original documents showing two different dates of birth for Singh surfaced,  the defence ministry sought all reports from the Army and other concerned departments so that Defence Minister A K Antony could examine them before he  gave his recommendation to the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

Two different dates of birth means two different retirement dates for the Chief that disrupts the succession plan of the Army. If Singh's date of birth is accepted as May 10, 1950, then he retires in 2012 catapulting Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh to the top post.

But if the ACC accepts Singh’s  date of birth as May 10, 1951, Bikram would no longer be eligible for the Chief's post. The next chief as per the seniority norms will be Northern  Army Commander K T Parnaik.

This happened because in the Army, three-star Lieutenant Generals retire at the age of 60 while Chief gets two years extra. The Army chief retires at 62.

Within the last two years, the Army was hit by two land scams – Sukhna and Adarsh – involving many senior officers and the previous chief Gen Deepak Kapur. Now the new chief who came with the clean-up agenda is mired in controversy.

Admission forms for National Defence Academy entrance examination, undertaken by the Union Public Service Commission, entry form of Indian Military Academy and an Army List show Singh's year of birth to be in 1950.

But the Chief's secondary school certificate from Madhyamik Siksha Board of Rajasthan shows his date of birth one year later, in 1951.

Apparently this is the document which the law officer in defence ministry considered while recommending the year 1951 as the year of birth for  the Chief.

The law officer's role has also become a matter of controversy with questions being raised whether due processes were followed before the file was referred to the officer – appointed by the Union Law Ministry but posted in defence – and if the officer followed the procedure.

Antony, said an officer, would like to consider all aspects and go through the rules and procedure before making his recommendation to the ACC.