Govt sticks to stand on Army chief's age

Govt sticks to stand on Army chief's age

Centre refutes report on bid to change Singhs DoB

The controversy over the Army chief’s date of birth got a new twist on Sunday with the senior officer's camp and the Ministry of Defence making claims and counter-claims on the rectification of his records kept in the Adjutant General’s branch in Army Headquarters.

The new development comes days ahead of the case’s first hearing in the Supreme Court.

Army chief’s supporters assert that the Defence Ministry wrote to the AG branch six days ago directing the official record-keeper to reconcile its record of Gen V K Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951, with that of the Military Secretary’s Branch whose record shows his year of birth as 1950. The difference in the year of his birth is the crux of the controversy.

But a Defence Ministry official contradicted this claim and said no such step was initiated now.
“At this stage, we will prefer to deal with the matter in the court and not administratively,” he stated.

In an unprecedented step, the Army chief moved the court on January 16 seeking to change his year of birth in the records of Military Secretary’s branch.

Gen Singh’s all appointments from second lieutenant to major general were made on the basis of 1951 as the year of birth. However, his promotion to the rank of lieutenant general in 2006 was made on the basis of 1950 as the year of birth. His subsequent promotions as corps commander and the Army chief were made considering his year of birth as 1950 on the basis of an “acceptance” by him in 2006 and 2008.

Singh claimed the "acceptance" was made under pressure from his predecessor Gen Deepak Kapoor.

Singh’s petition challenging the Defence Ministry is before the apex court and likely to be heard this week.

In his petition, the Army chief appealed to the court not only to quash the Defence Ministry's all orders rejecting his appeals to change his year of birth as 1951, but also to consider 10.05.1951 as his correct date of birth and “grant all consequential relief.” A change in the year of birth will affect Army’s succession plan as well. The Defence Ministry official said that in July 2010 such an instruction was indeed issued to the Adjutant General’s branch after the ministry had rejected the army chief’s formal request to maintain 1951 as his year of birth.“A statutory complaint from the chief against that rejection was filed in August 2011,” said an official.