Govt issues retirement letter to Army chief

Govt issues retirement letter to Army chief

Gen Singhs planned visit to Israel on March 16 stands cancelled

It was a double whammy for Army Chief Gen V K Singh on Tuesday. The Defence Ministry, on one hand, denied him permission to travel to Israel next month, while on the other hand issued a formal retirement warning letter to Singh, signaling the end of road for India’s first military chief who dared to drag the government to the court.

File photo

The formal retirement warning letter to Singh made it absolutely clear that he has to vacate his chair on May 31, 2012.

At the same time, the government cancelled Singh’s planned visit to Israel in the third week of March in the wake of the ongoing Israel-Iran stand-off on which India is trying to maintain a delicate diplomatic balance. The three-day visit was to start on March 16.

The government is also of the view that since the days of the current Army chief are numbered, it is best left to the newcomer to further strengthen India’s military relations with Israel. Incidentally Israel will be participating in the seventh edition of India’s defence exhibition here next month.

Singh is away in Jodhpur on Tuesday for an official engagement in 12 Corps. Over the next three months, the Army chief will have to participate in a number of ceremonial farewell events all over the country organised by various Corps and Commands.

A process has been set in motion to select the next Army chief. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik and Army Vice Chief Lt Gen S K Singh are the frontrunners.

The Defence Ministry was awaiting the Supreme Court order before issuing the retirement warning letter.

According to the Supreme Court order since “there is no reason to consider effecting any change in the date of birth of the petitioner (Singh), the petition is disposed.”

Singh is the first Indian service chief who sued the government on his date of birth issue, causing a flutter in the government. The controversy arose because two record keeping branches of the Army had two different date of birth records of Singh, who wanted 1951 as his official year of birth, which would have given him 10 months more in the service.

The government on its part maintained that it was not possible to change Singh’s date of birth records at this fag end of his career. Singh had to retreat in the Supreme Court and withdrew his petition challenging the government.