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Updated: January 30, 2012 11:02 IST

Ahead of court hearing, Ministry toughens stand against Army Chief

Special Correspondent
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Army Chief General V.K. Singh. File photo
Army Chief General V.K. Singh. File photo

Directs Adjutant-General to correct Gen. V.K. Singh's year of birth as 1950

The Ministry of Defence has ordered the Army's official record-keeper, the Adjutant-General, to correct the year of birth of the Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, as 1950, and not one year later as is marked in its records.

The Ministry issued a letter to this effect at the weekend. With the Supreme Court scheduled to take up Gen. V.K. Singh's petition this week, the Ministry has reiterated its July, 2011 order seeking to bring the record on a par with that of the Military Secretary that shows his date of birth as May 10, 1950. The Military Secretary branch is responsible for keeping records for promotion.

Sources in the government said the letter, copies of which have been sent to the Military Secretary and the Controller-General of Defence Accounts, reiterates the earlier stand that the February, 2011 order issued by the Adjutant-General Branch to maintain May 10, 1951 as the official date of birth was not correct and reiterates the validity of its July, 2011 order.

The letter makes it clear that the Manmohan Singh government is asserting it authority and backing Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who told Parliament in the winter session that Gen.V.K. Singh received his last three promotions, including as Chief of Army Staff, with May 10, 1950 as his date of birth.

The determination also has a bearing on the next Army Chief.

It remains to be seen what the Adjutant-General would do since it has been directed by the Ministry to send a report that it has complied with the earlier order.

The issue went to the Supreme Court after the government rejected the Army Chief's statutory complaint on December 30 last. He filed the petition a day after Army Day was celebrated on January 15.

The controversy broke out last year following an application filed under the Right to Information Act on reports that there were two sets of the year of Gen. V.K. Singh's birth present in the Army. The Union Law Ministry backed the Adjutant-General, which records it as 1951.

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WHY blaming SINGH? Is it not the duty of the administrators to keep the records updated? It is noted from publications that there is poor coordination between the two establishments maintaining the records. For this poor actions WHY an employee may be of nay status suffer/ Government should honor the status of Singh and amend the DOB.

from:  Praveen Sakhuja
Posted on: Feb 4, 2012 at 12:25 IST

Can this government do anything right? The arrogance of power exhibited by many ministers in various areas of governance is doing immense harm to the government.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 06:55 IST

Well, its disgraceful, and even slightly comical that such an issue
has rolled to the courts, with the Army's second (?) highest officer
as the litigant. I completely sympathize with the General, and feel
that he is fully within his rights to initiate the lawsuit,
notwithstanding the issue of obeying orders without question but I
would have respected him even more had he resigned and THEN initiated
the lawsuit. That would put him beyond reproach, while in the present
scenario, one might be led to conclude that he loves his position too
much, the prestige and the money and perks, to the extent that he will
fight tooth and nail to retain them for another year.

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 02:52 IST

Indian politicians will learn to respect our defence forces only if they do a coup & 'rule' atleast once.

from:  K Stephen Daniel
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 13:47 IST

We can't but see this as an attempt by the Government to reiterate the misunderstood supremacy of Executive (civilian control) over the military in a democratic republic. The bureaucracy probably is under the false impression that supremacy can be exercised only through subjugation. The irony is that the Government makes the Defence Forces by on the one hand, not equipping them as required by an aspiring world power (with neighbours not as friendly as desirable) weak and on the other hand always attempting to place 'yes' men on top, does nothing when unruly mobs (at Jaipur litfest the other day and in a National media office yesterday) subvert democracy. Our Government 'roars' at its Armed Forces while 'demurring' to the mobs. I am ashamed to be an Indian, today. If this trend is not corrected forthwith the future of our democracy is at stake.

from:  KL Viswanathan
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 11:37 IST

"One would see little harm in allowing the General's year of birth to be 1951"; ACCORDING TO THE TRIBUNE ANALYSIS ARMY CHIEF'S AGE ROW: The young Vijay Kumar Singh committed his first error by filling his date of birth as May 10, 1950 in the application form which he completed on July 29, 1965. It didn't make him ineligible to take the examination because the stipulation was that the candidate must have been born not earlier than January 2, 1949 and not later than July 1, 1951 to be eligible. In view of the above, the Chief of Army Staff, General Vijay Kumar Singh was qualified to the NDA even if he had given his age correctly as May 10, 1951? That is being correctly said that in this case, "one sees little controversy in correcting his age retrospectively as 1951"; As the Chief of Army Staff, General Vijay Kumar Singh maintains that his date of birth is May 10, 1951, especially when the general's matriculation certificate, his driving license, his PAN card, his passport, his service.

from:  Balbir Singh Sooch
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 10:24 IST

Defence Ministry directly asking AG's branch to correct Chief's DOB in the records held by it amounts to gross interference in the chain of command in Defence Forces. If AG does what is ordered by Defence Ministry, he will be violating the rules because he cannot do so without concurrence from the Chief. If such a correction was required it should have been done during the tenure of earlier Chief and not now when the present Chief is the affected party and he is a vital link in the chain of command between Defence Ministry and the AG. This new development is dangerous for the Defence Forces because in future Babus will start giving direct orders to subordinates in the chain of command and corrupt the whole system. The position of Chiefs will become redundant and this in turn can jeopardise national security besides discipline and morale of the forces. Status quo must be maintained till the verdict from Apex Court. Defence Ministry's attempt to impose itself on the Defence Forces at this crucial juncture must be condemned by everyone.

from:  Veteran Ram Gulrajani
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 10:09 IST

School record is not the only record to decide the date of birth. The Army Chief might be having his passport and the date of birth will be there. This date of birth in the passport is only based on the records produced. Date of birth is available in the driving licence also.

from:  S.Sahiram
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 09:53 IST

Everyone knows why UPA is so keen to remove Gen VK Singh from his post, that he earned righteously. Gen VK Singh is a huge barrier standing between UPA and corrupt deals. UPA wants him to go out and place in a weak and biased Gen who can help flourish corruption in Army for UPA.

from:  Pankaj
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 09:43 IST

UPA government: Why are you doing this? It is a huge mistake. If you lose in the supreme court, you will not know what to do. Prime Minister, do exercise some control over your ministers. be a man.

from:  Bandu
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 09:20 IST

It is difficult to approve of the stand of the government. First, the stance knowing that the supreme court is seized of the issue, govt. should have waited graciously for the apex court to pronounce its decision; it erred in rushing to show it was 'bold' stand. Of course, this government, by its actions all these decades, has shown that it can be tough only with its own army generals and that too on a matter of date of birth - i wish it had shown an infinitesimal apart of this toughness either with Paksitan or with China. It won't. Not happy with the way government has acted on this small issue.

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 08:56 IST

The levels people stoop to to remain in power! He had no issues with the 1950 date as long as it served his purpose. Now, that he is on his last stint, he wants his stay in power extended at the expense of others.

from:  Sur Tom
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 08:40 IST

The government cannot ask for record changes once the party has approached court for relief for that same topic, as it would be subjudice. What will the government do if for example that the supreme court rules in his favor?

from:  Ramachandran Nair
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 08:05 IST

It is sad story for a Great Person like army chief to retire on the due date of birth given at the time of joining the army and also accepted by the then govt in power and now changing the same for various reasons is not justifiable unless it is acceptable by the army chief himself.and add insult to injury going to supreme court if further deplorable and President has to intervene, as the First commandant of the army as on date.There should be a provision for the President to interfere in the matter of this special nature as CALL OF THE DUTY.

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:25 IST

Can anybody explain birth. Better vedio record every birth to prevent complications such as this. His father nor his mother could be alive now to say what was the day or time of army chief's birth.

from:  Albert
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:19 IST

whatever the date of birth given at the time of joining the army cadre by any member of the staff has to be accepted and was also in vogue till date and no change of date is possible now,and how the govt was sleeping over the years and whose fault any way now to correct to advance the age of retirement.How they could not verify at the time of accepting his age and whose mischief attitude has to led to this litigation. At least, let the govt and defence department wake up from the sleep and sets all their records update now and seek any clarification from the present staff when they are in service.which looks reasonable.

Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:15 IST

Better late than never! The Government has woken up at least now and taking a tough and I think a right decision.It is very simple if we see it this way, what effected most in his career, 1950 or 1951? It's very clear that he benefited most in his career because of 1950. Why he didn't raise his objection to it all these years? Now at the fag end of his career he is trying to use the 1951 for his advantage,that shows that he was aware of it all these years and still kept quite.That is not justified.What happened was wrong,there was a mistake and that is being corrected now. I think the Government's decision is correct.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:14 IST

It is most unfortunate that a retired Army chief has to go to the court,for redressal of their grievances at the time of retirement, and in this matter, either the PM or the President has to call the chief personally and mutually settle the issue,as the long service to the Nation looks meaningless,when there is a controversy whatsoever,and let the govt take a lenient view and avoid litigation, at the time of retirement of army personal more so the chief of army staff.

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:09 IST

Why is this repeated coverage, that too on the front pages of your newspaper? Is there no other economic or social issue that is more important than this? The media is starved of newsworthy items, it appears.

from:  suman
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 07:01 IST

I have watched this drama and the unfolding stream of events with sadness and feeling of frustration as the episode could have been handled with lot more finesse, diplomacy and dignity. Such high level matters in the government require a lot more delicate handling and Dr. Manmohan Singh's leadership seemed to have dissipated completely in this situation. We hope sense and civility will prevail and the decisions are made that show class, clarity and regard for what's right.

from:  Dinesh Sampat
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 06:44 IST

it is another example of harassment by bureaucrats to honest general who is fighting through govt laid down procedure,4 ex chief justice also favoured him but our so called corrupt lobby don't want to change their style of working, instead of fighting with enemies they start tarnishing image of honest general it is very black day in india's history a man who commands 11 lakhs soldiers is being leveled by media man above nation without knowing actual facts, whole life date of birth was 10 may 1951 ,whole indian public want to know why all of sudden it changed in 2006, inspite of general procedural communication, whole requests put in dust bin by his seniors,whole last 6 years general fighting just for his respect,image and his credibility, we whole heartedly will support,hopefully supreme court immediately give him justice,we expect law minister, defence minister need to resign.

from:  bhupinder
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 05:37 IST

The government is running amok and going berserk on the issue of the Army Chief's DOB. When the matter is with the Supreme Court and the hearing coming up on 3rd February, where is the need for this undue haste? Even though the letter is cleverly worded reiterating its stand referred to earlier, it is clear act of vendetta on the part of the government. The Army Chief has been meticulously following the rules through proper channel while seeking redress. Only after exhausting all the avenues, has the General gone to the Supreme Court. As a citizen of India, he has a right to represent his grievance to the Supreme Court and seek justice. Why should the government get upset with his action? All that the general seeks is recognition by the government his true DOB. He has agreed to retire in May 2012 whatever may be the Supreme Court verdict. When he says 'all consequential benefits thereof', he certainly does not mean extension of office but restitution of his honour and dignity.

from:  Chennaivaasi
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 03:21 IST

It is rather sad and unfortunate that Gen Singh has gone to the Supreme Court to get his date of birth validated as May 10, 1951, just to enjoy the privilege of an extended innings as COAS. His promotions have been based on his date of birth as 10th May 1950, which gave him seniority over others. He should realise that if his date of birth was 10th November 1951, he would not have received his promotions, including the last prestigious one as Chief of the Army Staff. I trust the Supreme Court would admonish him for taking advantage of earlier date for promotions and now, trying to seek extension in service by stating his date of birth is 10th May 1951. The Government should terminate him as Chief of Army Staff if the Supreme Court verdict goes against him, on grounds of indiscipline and lack of integrity and honesty. This will be a lesson to other Senior officers in the Services who must be watching the scene with anxiety and trepidation. A lesson should be taught to Gen. Singh !!!

Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 03:16 IST

V K Singh wanted to join the army, and so his Date of Birth was given wrong in the application form. Then he applied for a correction. Now that he is in the army and does not display any signs for summary dismissal, ministry of defence should research and come up with the amount that the Army has paid him for the first year of his service. Calculate the value in today's economic scenario. Let him continue as Army chief for another yr, but subtract this amount and any fine that can be imposed for misrepresentation of facts by the Supreme court, from his base salary.

from:  bikram das
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 02:55 IST

Indian Government is hell bent on alienating army.

from:  Raahu
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 00:39 IST
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