Defence Min rejects Army chief`s plea on age issue

The Defence Ministry has rejected General VK Singh`s statutory complaint to consider May 10, 1951 as his date of birth.

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry has rejected General VK Singh`s statutory complaint to consider May 10, 1951 as his date of birth and conveyed to him that he will have to retire on May 31 next year.
Singh had filed the statutory complaint with Defence
Minister A K Antony, the first chief of the 1.2 million-strong
army to do so, after the government on July 21 issued an order
saying that it will consider May 10, 1950 as his date of
birth, which would have denied him another ten months in
office.

The Ministry`s decision on the issue of his date of birth
was today conveyed to the army chief, sources said here.

After the Ministry decision on the statutory complaint,
the army chief has exhausted the in-house remedies available
to him and can approach a court of law which can either be the
Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) or the High Court.

The sources said the Ministry has taken the decision of
considering May 10, 1951 as his date of birth on the basis of
the third opinion given by the Attorney General (AG).
The AG had recently given his opinion on the statutory
complaint filed by the army chief where he stuck to his
earlier two opinions against giving any relief to the General.

After these developments in Defence Ministry headquarters
in South Block, the army chief went to meet Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee.

After the meeting, he denied having any information about
Defence Ministry`s decision on his age issue.

On December 16 also, the army chief had held a meeting
with Mukherjee after discussing his age issue at length with
the Defence Minister.

Mukherjee was the Defence Minister when the controversy
over army chief`s age erupted in 2005 at the time of his
appointment as Corps Commander of a Strike Corps.

The Ministry decision has come more than three weeks
after the army chief handed over a reminder to the Defence
Minister asking him to expedite decision on the age issue.

The raging controversy over Gen Singh`s age started when
the army on basis of an RTI application changed his date of
birth from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951, which would have
given him an extra 10 months in office.

Later, the Defence Ministry stepped in and on basis of
two opinions from the Attorney General, decided that May 10,
1950 will only be considered as Singh`s date of birth as he
had agreed on it in written undertakings.

Soon after the ministry order, Gen Singh filed a
statutory complaint with the Defence Minister against the
government decision to treat May 10, 1950 as his date of
birth.

A few weeks later, Antony said Singh`s date of birth is
May 10, 1950 and he will have to retire on May 31 next year.
After his retirement, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikramjit
Singh is most likely to take over as the Army Chief.

If 1951 was accepted as the year of birth of Gen Singh,
he would have been in office for another ten months. This
would have also changed the succession plan of the army and Lt
Gen KT Parnaik would have been the front-runner for the post
of army chief.

PTI

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