MoD set to embarrass Gen Singh

Letter asking AG will ultimately go to Army chief for his approval

 The “Most Immediate” letter signed by a Ministry of Defence (MoD) deputy secretary to the Adjutant General categorically states that “there are no grounds for interefering” with a previous ministry order of July 21, 2011, which had turned down Army chief General V K Singh’s stand that his date of birth is May 10, 1951.

Who is the boss: Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief Gen V K Singh in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

The letter will put the government as well as Gen Singh in an embarrassing situation because it will ultimately go to him as he is the head of the organisation with the Adjutant General’s branch under him.

According to the letter, which draws attention to a matter of “propriety” (change of service record), after examining Gen Singh’s statutory complaint of August 26, 2011, in which the Army chief had, among other things, sought: first, a reconsideration and withdrawal of the MoD’s office memorandum of July 21, 2011, and another order of July 22, 2011; and secondly, decide whether the Adjutant General’s branch, the official record keeper of birth, “is correctly maintaining his date of birth as May 10, 1951. A copy of the letter is available with Deccan Herald.

The letter, that was despatched to the Adjutant general’s office last week, points out in no uncertain terms that the MoD is in any mood to relent even as Gen Singh’s petition seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention to decide when he was born will come up for hearing on February 4.

On its part, the letter shows that the ministry has hardened its stand and since Gen Singh’s statutory complaint was disposed of by an MoD order of December 30, 2011, with copies to the offices of the Military Secretary and the Adjutant General, the South Block bureaucrats have taken the stand that “Gen V K Singh’s officially recognised date of birth will continue to remain May 10, 1950.”

The strongly worded letter takes the position that Gen Singh’s claim of May 10, 1951, as his date of birth by the Adjutant General’s branch “is not correct” and that the Army headquarter’s order (No. 12918/RTI/MP-6(a) of February 25, 2011, “directing to amend the date of birth of Gen Singh to read as May 10, 1951, instead of May 10, 1950 as recorded, was declared  to be null and void and non est”.

The letter goes on to argue that “with reference to Gen Singh’s contention that no inquiry had been conducted by Army headquarters nor had the Adjutant General’s branch been co-opted or kept informed about the same, it is stated that pursuant to the direction in this behalf conveyed” by an MoD note of January 25, 2008, the then Military Secretary said: “A detailed examination in consultation with the AG’s branch with regard to verification of date of birth in respect of Lt Gen V K Singh has been carried out...the date of birth in respect of the officer continues to be maintained as May 10, 1950.”

The letter claims that then Military Secretary probed the matter after an approval from then Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor.

Government sources told Deccan Herald that it is this 2008 finding that the government has based its stand so firmly on to claim that Gen Singh was born on May 10, 1950.

In line with this argument, the MoD letter claims that “May 10, 1951, recorded as the date of birth of Gen Singh by the AG branch (MP Directorate) has not been found to be correct.”

The letter reveals that Gen Singh’s order (No. 12918/RTI/Mp-6(a) which had directed the AG’s branch and other offices in the Army amend the date of birth to May 10, 1951, was “rescinded” and that “it is emphasised that the action sought by MoD by its July 21, 2011, office memorandum “is not legally infirm and hence any apprehension expressed in his behalf has no basis.”

The letter directs the AG’s branch to be guided by the July 21, 2011, office memorandum and to strictly comply with it, besides sending a compliance report to the ministry at the earliest.

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