Govt wants Army Chief’s DoB corrected

Govt wants Army Chief’s DoB corrected New Delhi: In a hardening of its stand ahead of the Supreme Court hearing, the Defence Ministry has directed that the Army's records should be corrected to show that Army Chief Gen.V K Singh's year of birth is 1950, contrary to his stand that he was born one year later.

The Defence Ministry has written six days back to the AG's branch, Army's official record keeper, which has so far maintained that the Gen Singh's date of birth was May 10, 1951, that it should be reconciled with other records which show the date as May 10, 1950.

In its letter, the ministry is understood to have sought a compliance report.

The hearing on the age issue will come up before the apex court on February 3.

While the AG's branch has maintained Gen Singh's date of birth as May 10, 1951, the Military Secretary's branch records it as May 10, 1950.

The move appears to be to reconcile the two dates in Army records and is an indication of the tough stance of the government against Gen Singh, who has moved the Supreme Court on his age issue.

In its first order rejecting Army Chief's contention on July 21, the Defence Ministry had asked the AG's branch to record 1950 as Gen Singh's year of birth.

In its July 21 decision, the Ministry had declared the order issued by the Adjutant General (Manpower and Planning) on February 25 directing amendment of the date of birth as May 10, 1951 instead of May 10, 1950 as recorded as "null and void and non est".

Soon after the order was issued by the Ministry, the Army chief had filed a statutory complaint with Defence Minister A K Antony reiterating that his date of birth should be accepted as May 10, 1951.

Army Headquarters had later openly questioned the decision, saying that the date of birth mentioned in his matriculation certificate cannot be ignored.

It had said the Defence Ministry has arrived at its decision on the issue on the basis of what it was told by the MS Branch which has no jurisdiction on such issues.

After the Ministry rejected his statutory complaint on December 30, Gen Singh moved the Supreme Court on January 16 challenging the government decision of not accepting his assertion on his date of birth issue.

As per the 1950 date of birth, Gen Singh will have to leave office on May 31, this year whereas acceptance of May 10, 1951 would give him an extension of ten months in office.

The ministry had asked the AG branch in July last year to reconcile the dates, making it May 10, 1950 but this was not done and hence a fresh direction was issued, highly placed sources said.

This is the first time that any Service chief has dragged the government to the court. The petition has been filed and senior advocate U U Lalit will represent Gen Singh before the apex court.

The Army Chief has maintained that the issue of date of birth and age is related to his honour and integrity and he has handled it in the best interest of the organization.