Crucial hearing on Gen Singh's age row tomorrow in SC

Crucial hearing on Gen Singh's age row tomorrow in SC

The crucial hearing on age row of Army Chief General V K Singh will be taken up tomorrow in the Supreme Court where the Centre will spell out its stand whether it was withdrawing or not its order rejecting his statutory complaint.

A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha would take up Singh's petition seeking a direction to the government to declare his date of birth as May 10, 1951 instead of May 10, 1950.

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 prompting Attorney General G E Vahanvati to say he would take instructions from the government.

The apex court felt that the December 30, 2011 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 and not May 10, 1951, 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".

Referring to the ministry's orders of December 30 and earlier rejecting his case, the Army Chief has said that these orders have "conveniently ignored" his matriculation certificate, entire service record including entry into service, promotions and annual confidential reports.

He has stated that being a highly decorated officer, he had received all his awards, decorations and promotions as per the date of birth being 10.5.1951.