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Army chief s plea to change age rejected, to retire in May 2012
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 12/31/2011 12:00:00 AM

New Delhi: In a major setback to Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh in his quest to have official records change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951, the defence ministry Friday rejected his statutory complaint that would have given him ten more months of active service.

The decision, taken by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, would mean Gen. Singh will retire as per schedule on May 31, 2012. Defence ministry sources said the decision was communicated by the ministry to the army chief on a recommendation from the attorney general that the statutory complaint be rejected.

The attorney general made the recommendation after studying Gen Singh s plea to change his date of birth from May 10, 1950, to May 10, 1951, in all official records. After this, the option left before the army chief is to go to the court and try to convince it legally that his request for a change in the year of his birth is valid under the laws.

The complaint was filed by Gen. Singh in August this year under the Army Act, a first by any army chief in India s history. The Army Act mandates that any statutory complaint from its personnel be decided within 90 days, but Antony had taken more than 120 days to decide on the complaint, on the premise that this particular law was not applicable to him.

Gen. Singh s plea for changing his year of birth had become a controversy as it would have upset the succession plans of the 1.13 million-strong Indian Army if his request had been accepted, as the seniority determines who becomes the next chief. If the ministry had granted Gen. Singh his request, it would have provided him another 10 months in office and he would have retired only in April 2013. That would mean the next senior most officer of the army, Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, who is the present Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander, would not become the chief in May 2012 and his junior Lt. Gen K.T. Parnaik, present Udhampur-based Northern Army Commander, would have become the chief in April 2013.

With the government s mind becoming clear now, the transition in the army chief s office will begin soon and the appointments committee of the cabinet may in a month or two name the successor. 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 this year that the date of birth of Gen 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 on May 25 before the defence ministry asking it to treat May 10, 1951, as his date of birth. But on July 21, this plea was rejected by the ministry.

The statutory complaint was filed by Gen. Singh in response to the July 21 rejection of his earlier petition. The controversy stemmed from different sets of records in the adjutant general and military secretary branches of the Indian Army headquarters. While the adjutant general s branch, which deals with pay, perks and pensions, maintains 1951 as his year of birth, the military secretary branch, which deals with appointments and promotions, has 1950 as year of birth of Gen. Singh in its records.

The army chief had earlier sought the opinion of five legal experts, including four retired chief justices of India G.B. Patnaik, V.N. Khare, R.C. Lahoti and J.S. Verma, apart from former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium. The confusion over the date of birth has its genesis in the different sets of records that Gen. Singh himself had submitted since his joining the National Defence Academy in late 1960s.

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Army chief s plea to change age rejected, to retire in May 2012

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भारत डिफेंस कवच की नई हिन्दी पत्रिका ‘डिफेंस मॉनिटर’ का ताजा अंक ऊपर दर्शाया गया है। इसके पहले दस पन्ने आप मुफ्त देख सकते हैं। पूरी पत्रिका पढ़ने के लिए कुछ राशि का भुगतान करना होता है। पुराने अंक आप पूरी तरह फ्री पढ़ सकते हैं। पत्रिका के अंकों पर क्लिक करें और देखें। -संपादक

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