Army Chief`s age row settled, to retire next year

Army Chief Gen V K Singh will have to retire in May next year, with the government on Thursday deciding to treat May 10,1950 as his date of birth, ending a controversy that has been plaguing the force for several months.

Last Updated: Jul 21, 2011, 19:50 PM IST

New Delhi: Army Chief Gen V K Singh will
have to retire in May next year, with the government on Thursday
deciding to treat May 10,1950 as his date of birth, ending a
controversy that has been plaguing the force for several
months.

The decision of the Defence Ministry, reached on the
basis of the opinion given by the Attorney General and the Law
Ministry, was conveyed to the Army Chief today, sources said.
The dispute had arisen after two dates of birth-- May 10,
1950 and May 10,1951 -- were detected in his service records.

In the service records, the Matriculation certificate
shows May 10,1951 as his date of birth but the UPSC
application form filled for entry into the Army has May 10,
1950 as the date of birth.

Determination of the correct year of birth was crucial
as his tenure as the Army chief will be for three years or 62
years of age.

With May 1950 being considered as his date of birth, Gen
Singh will have to retire in May next year when he will
complete 62 years of age.

Gen Singh had contended that May 1951 should be treated
as his date of birth and sought the view of three former Chief
Justices of India to seek support.
However, in view of the controversy, the Defence Ministry
had sought the opinion of Law Ministry as well as Attorney
General, which opined that May 10,1950 should be treated as
the date of birth since it was entered in the UPSC form and if
there had been any discrepancy, it should have been corrected
within two years.

Gen Singh is now expected to be succeeded by Eastern Army
Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who will be the seniormost Lt
Gen at the time of Singh`s retirement.

As the controversy continued to rage, the Defence
Ministry had sought the opinion of the Attorney General G E
Vahanvati within a span of a month recently and both times he
opined that the Army Chief`s date of birth should be treated
as May 10, 1950 as recorded in the UPSC application form
filled for entry into the National defence Academy.

This was validated by the Law Ministry.
The Attorney General`s opinion was contrary to the
"independent and private" opinions the Army had sought from
two retired judges, Justice J S Verma and Justice G B Patnaik
who had reportedly said that May 10, 1951 should be considered
as Gen Singh`s date of birth.

Sources said the Defence Ministry had not taken kindly
the fact that the Army Chief was seeking opinion from retired
Chief Justices.

The Adjutant General`s branch of the Army had sought
the opinion of the two ex-chief justices after the Attorney
General in his first opinion said that the May 10, 1950 date
cannot be altered as it would lead to serious legal disputes.

The first opinion given by a Joint Secretary rank
officer of the Law Ministry officer posted at Defence Ministry
in February this year had said that Gen Singh`s date of birth
be treated as May 10, 1951.

The Joint Secretary-rank officer`s decision became
public when an RTI was filed.

PTI