Ex-Army chief backs Gen VK Singh in age row

Former Army chief General Shankar Roychowdhury has come out in support of General VK Singh.

New Delhi: Former Army chief General Shankar
Roychowdhury has come out in support of General VK Singh, who
has dragged the government to the Supreme Court over his date
of birth row, saying Singh was justified in doing so.

"I think so. Gen VK Singh is a very honourable man. The
Army rests on the basis of honour and integrity...I don`t
think he will compromise on honour unless he was driven to
it," he said when asked if the Army chief was forced to go to
the Supreme Court on the age issue.

Gen Singh filed a petition before the Supreme Court last
week challenging government`s orders which had determined his
date of birth to be May 10, 1950 and not May 10, 1951, which
would have given him an extra ten months in office.

Asked if the Army chief was justified in approaching the
court on the issue, Roychowdhury said, "Yes, of course, he
can. Should he have gone to court, that is an issue which has
to judged on the basis of overall events."

"It must be examined whether the chief was placed in a
position by events in the background and how long they have
been going around...Can a chief be placed in certain position
by turn of events, the rulings of Defence Ministry where he
has no option but to go to court," he said speaking to a news channel.

Queried if it was right for a serving Army chief to have
approached the court, Roychowdhury said, "If a serving Major
or a Colonel can go to court, I don`t see why a Chief can`t go
to court... He is an Army person with an Army persons`

When pointed out that armies across the world were
supposed to obey orders, the former Army chief said, "There
are organisations that take advantage of these principles and
force things on army which it does not like."

On whether accepting 1950 as his year of birth would
vitiate Gen Singh`s case, Roychowdhury said, "I would like to
say that we should go into circumstances that made him declare
that 1950 was his date of birth. What were the circumstances
and what were the pressures put on him, we don`t know."

He said Gen Singh would have accepted 1950 as his
date of birth in writing "under pressure" and dismissed
suggestions that he was putting self before service on the

Roychowdhury said if anything affects the career of an
officer and "particularly getting the top spot, if at that
juncture some person or organisation says that unless you sign
this undertaking, you will not be promoted. This would bring
severe pressure on him".

He said the government should have "handled the issue in
a better manner and shown more understanding... The Defence
Ministry is guilty of not putting broad approach to the issue.
Minister should have exercised judgement".

The fact that two different dates of birth existed in two
different branches of the Army was "appalling" and said that
it should be ensured that no such cases come up in future, the
former Army chief said.


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