The controversy surrounding the year of birth of Chief of the Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, now appears to have entered the home stretch with Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati having tendered his opinion. Sources in the government said here on Thursday that Mr. Vahanvati favoured treating 1950 as the year of birth. The controversy was over the differences in the records kept in two different branches of the Army — one with the Adjutant General (AG) and the other with the Military Secretary (MS). The AG branch is the official records keeper for salary and pension, in which the Army Chief's date of birth is shown as May 10, 1951. However, in the records of the MS branch, which is responsible for promotions and postings, it is May 10, 1950.

Earlier, the Ministry sent pertinent documents to Mr. Vahanvati for him to study all aspects of the issue, including the law of limitation, which stipulates that an incumbent must, in case there is an anomaly in the birth records, draw the attention of the authorities within two years of joining service.

The sources did not specify reasons behind Mr. Vahanvati's view. It would form an important input for the Defence Ministry to take a final view on the issue. Any change in the year of birth from 1950 to 1951 would have an impact on the successor to General. Singh. The controversy cropped up recently following a recent RTI query, on which the Law Ministry is said to have determined that for the year of birth, the date mentioned in the school leaving certificate should be taken as valid. The issue arose since the certificate states it to be May 10, 1951, the NDA application form records it a year ahead.

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