Army chief sues govt over age dispute

Gen V K Singh questions Centres stand on DoB

Army chief sues govt over age dispute

In an unprecedented move, Army Chief Gen V K Singh on Monday took the government to court, filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court on his date of birth issue.

He has challenged the Centre’s repeated rejection of his appeal to reconsider 1951 as his year of birth instead of 1950 as in official records.

The reconsideration would give Singh 10 additional months at the helm of affairs as the Army chief. Else, he has to retire on May 31, 2012.

The Army’s succession plan will change completely if the defence ministry accepts 1951 as his year of birth.

While challenging the ministry’s steadfast refusal to reconsider his year of birth, the Army chief mentioned it was purely a personal matter for his honour and integrity, and had no bearing whatsoever on the functioning of 1.13-million strong Indian Army.

The petition in the apex court was filed a day after Army Day and 10 days ahead of Republic Day when the nation's military might will be put on display.

The age controversy has its genesis in two sets of records kept at Army headquarters. The Adjutant General's branch shows it as May 10, 1951, but according to the military secretary’s branch, Singh’s date of birth is May 10, 1950.

After becoming the Chief of Army Staff, Singh petitioned the government appealing for rectification.
But the government argued it was too late in the day for Singh, who has to accept 1950 as his year of birth on the basis of which he received the last two promotions as the GOC of
Ambala-based 2 Corps and the Eastern Command in Kolkata.

Quizzed by the media at his annual press conference on Thursday, Singh remained evasive on his next course of action as every internal option within the defence ministry came to a naught after Defence Minister A K Antony rejected his statutory complaint on December 30.

At his annual press conference, Singh remained evasive on his next course of action and whether he would resign from the post.

“Please leave it to my judgment what do I want to do. It is an issue that concerns me. Let me decide on some actions after I get time to think about myself. Let me find time to think about myself,” he had stated.

This is the second instance of an open row between a service chief and defence minister after former Navy Chief Vishnu Bhagwat was sacked by the government on the last day of 1998 following his open defiance in accepting the then defence minister George Fernandes's order of accepting Harinder Singh as the deputy chief of naval staff.

After his dismissal, Bhagwat went to the Supreme Court challenging the government decision but ultimately lost with the apex court upholding the government's stand.

But days after rejecting his statutory complaint, Antony wrote to the Army chief expressing the government’s full confidence in the leadership provided by Singh.


What they said...

 I think it’s a personal issue and he should do whatever he thinks is right.

P V Naik
Former IAF Chief

It is a complete lack of statecraft of the government. Shockingly, the issue, which should have been resolved amicably, is calling for a judicial intervention.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy
BJP spokesperson

If a petition has been filed... it is between the person and the court.

Abhishek Singhvi
Congress spokesperson

Army Chief going to court on personal matters is not good for the force or the nation.

Deepak Kapoor
Former Army chief 

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