AG gives his second opinion on Army chief

Responding to a request by the Defence Ministry, Vahavati is learnt to have reaffirmed his earlier opinion that Singh's date of birth as recorded in the UPSC application form filled for entry into the Army as May 10, 1950 as the date of birth, should be treated as final.

Sources in the Law Ministry refused to comment on AG's second opinion and said it was yet to decide on the controversial issue.

In a span of one month, the Defence Ministry had for the second time sought the opinion of the Law Ministry on the issue of the date of birth of Army chief Gen V K Singh.

The Attorney General's opinion goes contrary to the "independent and private" opinions the Army had sought from two retired judges, Justice J S Verma and Justice G B Patnaik who had reportedly said that May 10, 1951 should be considered as Gen Singh's date of birth instead of May 10, 1950.

The Adjutant General's branch of the Army had sought the opinion of the two ex-chief justices after the Attorney General in his earlier given his view that the May 10, 1950 date cannot be altered as it would lead to serious legal disputes.

The first opinion given by a Joint Secretary rank officer of the Law Ministry officer posted at Defence Ministry in February this year had said that Gen Singh's date of birth be treated as May 10, 1951.

But following a controversy, the AG was asked to give his opinion.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati had cited Army rules in his opinion, which debar any correction in the date of birth after two years of joining service.

In his 18-page opinion, Vahanvati had also warned that any change in the date of birth at this stage will attract a series of court cases and the Army will find it difficult to defend its decision.

The Army has two different dates as Gen Singh's birth. While the Adjutant General's branch has May 10, 1951, the military secretary's branch records have it as May 10, 1950.

Gen Singh's matriculation certificate has May 10, 1951 as his date of birth but the UPSC application form filled for entry into the Army has May 10, 1950 as the date of birth.
Determination of the correct year of birth is crucial as his tenure as the Army chief will be for three years or 62 years of age if the latter date is accepted.

If 1950 is considered as the year of birth, he will retire in June next year. Otherwise, he can continue till April 2013.

This would also have its impact on the line of succession in the Army as if the Chief retires next year, Lt Gen Bikram Singh would be his likely successor. If Singh gets an extension in tenure, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik would be the next chief.

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