Amidst age row, Army chief meets key aides
New Delhi: Amidst a raging row over his request for reconciling the official records to show his year of birth as 1951 instead of 1950, Army chief General VK Singh has met his principal staff officers, particularly the record keepers in the Army headquarters in New Delhi, sources said on Monday.
Though no official information on what transpired in the meetings held on Friday and again on Monday, sources said the defence ministry`s communication on Friday that the attorney general`s opinion which was against acceding to his request did come up for discussion.
The meeting with his principal staff officers, held twice within a matter of four days, was attended among others by the adjutant general, who is responsible for record keeping and pay and in the army headquarters.
The records with the adjutant general branch, including General Singh`s school leaving certificate, indicated that he was born May 10, 1951. However, records with the military secretary, responsible for postings and promotions, showed it as May 10, 1950.
With the defence ministry rejecting his statutory complaint lodged four months ago with defence minister AK Antony, the army chief has the option of going to the courts, either the armed forces tribunal or the Supreme Court, to get his grievance addressed.
Another drastic move that the army chief could take was to resign ahead of his tenure coming to an end May 31, 2012, which would put the succession line in the 1.13-million-strong army out of gear, sources said.
On Friday, after General Singh was communicated the government`s decision on his date of birth, he met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was the defence minister when the controversy broke out.
The army chief`s age controversy first cropped up in 2006 when his name came up before the government for appointment as a corps commander.
Antony told parliament, in reply to questions, in September last year that "the date of birth of General Singh has been maintained as May 10, 1950, at the time of his selection as corps commander in 2006 as well his subsequent promotions as army commander in 2008 and the chief of army staff in 2010."
In the age controversy, the Army chief had filed a petition May 25, 2011 before the defence ministry asking it to treat May 10, 1951, as his date of birth. But July 21, 2011 this plea was rejected by the ministry.
The statutory complaint was filed by General Singh in response to the July 21 rejection of his earlier petition.
If the ministry had granted General Singh his request, it would have provided him another 10 months in office and he would have retired in April 2013.
That would have also resulted in Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who is the present Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander, being denied the chance to become the next chief in May 2012 and his junior Lt Gen KT Parnaik, present Udhampur-based Northern Army Commander, would have become the next chief in April 2013.
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