Army Chief places additional documents in SC on age row

 Ahead of Friday's hearing on the age row, Army Chief Gen V K Singh today placed before the Supreme Court additional documents to support his case for restoring his date of birth as May 10, 1951.

The documents filed by Gen Singh relates to the Army Rules on Commissioning of officers, his lawyer said.

The fresh documents have been filed two days ahead of the February 10 hearing on the petition filed by Gen Singh seeking to set aside two orders rejecting his plea.
The apex court on February 3 had given an option to the government to "withdraw" its December 30, 2011 order rejecting his statutory complaint, saying it "appears to be vitiated".

Giving the government a week's time and posting the matter for further hearing on February 10, the Court said there were other remedies available for Gen Singh if the government withdraws its December 30, 2011 order.

"Be clear whether you want to withdraw this December 30 order, or we quash the order," the court had said at one point prompting Attorney General G E Vahanvati to say he would take instructions from the government.

Posing  questions to the government, a Bench comprising justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale had said in that case Gen Singh's statutory complaint against July 21 order can be reconsidered by the authorities and there was also an option for him to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal or the High Court.

However, later the bench  observed that approaching the Tribunal would not be the best option as only four months are left for him to retire.

It also said that though the tribunal is headed by a retired judge of the apex court, there are also members who come from the services and there is a possibility that they could either be junior or senior to Gen Singh at some point of time.The apex court felt that the December 30 order rejecting Gen Singh's statutory complaint for treating his age as May 10, 1951 was vitiated as the decision taken by the authority was in consultation with opinion of the Attorney General on whose opinion also the first order was passed on July 21 last year.

Gen Singh had moved the apex court in January this year accusing the government of treating him in a manner reflecting total lack of adherence to procedure and principles of natural justice in deciding his age.

The Army Chief took the unprecedented step of dragging the government to the apex court after the Defence Ministry had insisted upon treating May 10, 1950, as his official date of birth, necessitating his retirement on May 31 this year.

Challenging the government's decision to determine May 10, 1950, as his date of birth, Gen Singh, in a 68-page petition, has maintained that his acceptance of 1950 as the year of his birth was given in good faith at the behest of the then chief of Army Staff and not due to agreement with the conclusion of the Military Secretary's Branch.

"The respondent (government) needs to explain as to why the senior most officer of the Army could be treated in a manner which reflects total lack of procedure and principles of natural justice and that too on an opinion obtained from the Attorney General," his petition said.

Gen Singh stated that the government's action and conduct in refusing to accept his contention on his birth date was affecting his image before the general public and the armed forces.

It was his right to have a "dignified life", he pleaded in the petition, adding that an army chief has "a right to retire with dignity".

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