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Updated: January 13, 2012 02:48 IST

Age an issue of integrity and honour, says Army Chief

Special Correspondent
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Army Chief General V.K. Singh said that he had tackled the age issue in the “organisational interest” and the matter was not affecting the image of the Army if considered in a straight forward manner. File photo: Sandeep Saxena
The Hindu
Army Chief General V.K. Singh said that he had tackled the age issue in the “organisational interest” and the matter was not affecting the image of the Army if considered in a straight forward manner. File photo: Sandeep Saxena

It has not affected either the image of the Army or its work

Asserting that the issue of determination of his year of birth was a matter of “integrity and honour,” the Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, on Thursday underscored it was raised in the interest of the organisation.

“It has always been [an issue] of integrity and honour… right from the time the issue came to the forefront, it has always been taken up in organisational interest…,'' the Army Chief emphasised two days after he insisted the issue was a “purely personal matter.”

Interacting with journalists ahead of the January 15 Army Day, Gen. Singh said both media and he were aware of the people creating the controversy, the spate of reports including the spiel around statements, correspondence, including ‘top secret' documents on it doing the rounds in the corridors of power in Delhi. Yet he parried questions about the options being explored and refused to take any questions on it stating there was no point in vitiating the atmosphere.

On speculation that he would choose to put in his papers after the government rejected his statutory complaint last month, in an open-ended response the Chief said: “Leave it to my judgment. What I want to do and… decide to take some action [would be] after I get time to think about myself.”

While insisting that the issue did not affect either the image of the Army, its work or relations with the Defence Ministry, Gen. Singh said it did cause concern in his own family.

With Gen. Singh contending that his year of birth be treated as May 10, 1951 and not a year early as has been determined when the government gave him the last three promotions, the controversy has been stoked periodically over the last few months.

In case the government concedes to make the change, Gen. Singh should get a 10-month extension for, otherwise, he should retire in May this year on turning 62. The Army Chief has a fixed tenure of three years or until the age of 62 whichever comes earlier.

That should also affect his successor for, if Gen. Singh hangs up his boots in May this year, Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh will be the front-runner to replace him; otherwise an extended tenure should catapult Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik to the top post.

Gen. Singh also refrained from answering questions on reports of the possible involvement of Gen. Bikram Singh in an alleged fake encounter a decade ago.

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The controversy over the General’s DoB raises more questions than any irrefutable answer. We are told that he applied for the UPSC examination when he was 14 in which form 1950 was indicated as the DoB. A 14 year old, from an educated, elite family hardly ever makes a mistake on his birth date!!!. What did the school record show? !951 as his DoB comes up in the matriculation certificate which he obviously acquired and submitted later, when he joined NDA. On what basis the DoB was different in this certificate?
Here lies the genesis. The questions are:(i)When he indicated 1950 as the DoB was he eligible to take the UPSC exam; if his real DoB was 1951 was he underage to take the exam? (ii) The Annual Appraisal Report has a column for DoB, which is to be verified and certified by the Head of Office. What DoB was indicated in the ACR forms over the 36 years of service and what verification was done? (iii) On three consecutive promotions he endorsed the DoB of 1950. If 1951 had been accepted as the DoB by the then Army Chiefs, would he have been eligible for the promotions that he got in 2006 and 2009? (iv) Why was his “honour and integrity” not affected when the DoB of 1950 was allegedly thrust on him by the then Army Chiefs at the time of his promotions. Why did he not move the Army Tribunal to correct his DoB and bring the “correct” facts, which are now stated in the petition to the Supreme Court.
This entire controversy appears to be a game being played by senior army officers to keep some officers out of the reckoning for the highest post in the Army and has already set a bad precedent. An Army Chief so engaged in his DoB fight at the fag end of his career can hardly keep a watch on the security of the nation. The Hon’ble SC should close its ears to the raucous public debate and give a fair judgement. Throw the petition out as it has done the PIL filed by the Grenadiers Association, on whose petition the General seemed to be riding piggy back.

from:  Gita Kripalani
Posted on: Jan 21, 2012 at 14:37 IST

It is the matter of integrity and honour for the army chief Gen. V.K. Singh as if the goverment doesnt listen to his repeated appeals den then think about rest of the army. if this can be done to the cheif then whats in store for rest. the issue should be done away with asap. whatever the court gives in verdict should be final as it is affecting all major instituiton of the nation.the army, the mod, the court all have a major role in this issue. respect for the institutions and its
personnels are to be kept at par.

from:  Abhimanyu Singh
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 13:20 IST

The profession of arms for those who have very limited understanding in our country, is one which has always and will always stand on the pillars of honour,integrity,honesty,there are no two ways about it. Abberations will always get quoted becoz after all we all come from the same social fabric.As far as the age of the Army Chief goes the most creditable and authentic document which certifies his age is his matriculation certificate on the basis of which all his reccords have been based in the MOD,and there is no disputing it. When an officer as upright and professional like Gen V K Singh is having to clarify an issue which actually is so trivial-esp the manner in which the issue is being raked up- goes to show that he is doing something so fantastically correct that people in various corridors esp of the MOD(Read and meant to be read as CIVILIAN BEAURACRATs)are finding it hard to get their "issues" resolved.It is high time we stood by THE organisation responsible for our freedom.

from:  vinayak
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 10:31 IST

I think that there are rules that a Government can seek change in the
date of birth within five years of joining the service. why Mr. Singh
did not take advantage of this provision?

from:  S.S. gangadharan
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 09:28 IST

The precedence set for reviewing DOB of the Army Chief has triggered many a speculation. That the Defence rules of verifying birth certificates of military personnel are subjected to public debate, unfolds multiple chinks those warrant urgent mending. The methodology of verification suffers from proper interpretation which the ministry alone can rectify in consultation with our Law Ministry. Despite all the above, it illbehoves of the Army Chief to have raked up the issue after much water has flown under the bridge.

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 07:30 IST

If his earlier DOB is accepted, then he should not have become the General of Indian Army in first place. SC should strip him immediately of his Army chief title if he insists on using his other DOB.

from:  Rajahg
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 00:23 IST

I want to ask the General if he would have fought for changing his date of birth from 1950 to 1951 if the governmernt was to come out with a circular to say that all those with date of birth before 1951 will receive double pension over those i951 or after.It is being made out as an issue between MOD and Army chief. The General wants to show the defence minister Mr AK Antony because there have been so many scanadals involving military in the recent past and the later took strong action.There is nothing in this to demoralise the forces as is being made out. There are hundreds of decisions that the Army chief and his staff at Army HQ give out everyday to officers and Jawans that they dob't like or feel are not just, does he expect them go to court. The general must be asked to resign and fight his case if he is fighting for honor or else he is fighting for tenure elongation. Let us not set bad precedent in a glorious force that we are all proud of. Let the General go.

from:  ravindra kumar
Posted on: Jan 16, 2012 at 22:10 IST

To obey and honour the decision of GoI ( in other words-- decision of people of INDIA because GoI represents people of India) , should also be taken as issue of integrity and honour by the present army chief and continue to serve the nation in the capacity of respected retired( Retired ) army chief after May,2012.

from:  ds meena
Posted on: Jan 16, 2012 at 21:05 IST

Govt and Army based all it's promotions for VK Singh based on initial provided DOB. Should Singh now change, Army may have considered all those promotions in restrospect and demote if required to proper age/level and re-designate him as applicable or stile to its original records. Singh should also be penalized for providing false records and level appropriate charges and reprimand as rules dictate. In the end Singh cannot simply correct his DOB and get extension of his service claiming integrity.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jan 16, 2012 at 18:52 IST

When an Officer submits for joining Indian Army, he invariably declares his date of birth and the same is supported by the Birth Certificate issued by Matric Certificate / the Hospital authorities / Corporation or Municipal authorities. Further on his selection to the services a Gazette Notification issued with his date date of birth / qualification / father's name, place of birth are ALSO published in the Govt of India Gazette (Ministry of Defence) on his first appointment . HOW it is possible to have TWO dates of birth. The matter has got to go through thoroughly and the claim of Gen. Singh has to be determined by a court of law and his terminal benefits thereafter should be awarded by the court.

from:  Vasan
Posted on: Jan 13, 2012 at 12:23 IST

In one place Gen. Singh says the issue cause concern in his own family
and in another that he had tackled the age issue in the “organisational
interest”. This is a fine example of how people in high positions push
their personal interests in the guise for the interest of the
organisation they represent.

from:  Biju
Posted on: Jan 13, 2012 at 08:26 IST

I do not understand the point of integrity and honour here. His birth date has to be in 1950 or 1951. Stick to the one that is right. Now, it is another question as to why two different dates have been submitted. That is definitely a question of integrity and honour.

from:  Mani
Posted on: Jan 13, 2012 at 04:07 IST
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