Army chief General VK Singh may have lost the battle over his age in the Supreme Court on Friday but he is faced with trouble on another front.
The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) is hearing a case where a serving Major General has accused the chief of spoiling his annual confidential reports (ACRs) as he did not accede to his demand of changing his date of birth when he was the deputy military secretary.
He has prayed for quashing the ACRs written by the General.
The case comes up for hearing on February 14.
In December 2006, Major General TS Handa (then a Brigadier) was posted as the deputy military secretary, selection boards and complaints, when General Singh (then a Lt Gen and the General Officer Commanding of 2 Corps, Ambala) had asked the military secretary (MS) branch to change his recorded date of birth from May 10, 1950, to May 10, 1951.
Major General Handa has claimed in his petition before the AFT, “The MS Branch records the date of birth to be the one filled in the UPSC form by the candidate in his own hand, which in this case was May 10, 1950. Therefore, unless approved by the competent authority, the date of birth can’t be amended by the MS Branch as requested by Gen VK Singh.” Handa submitted that the General believes that he is responsible for not amending his date of birth.
“Else there was no reason for Gen VK Singh to have taken a series of deliberate actions all aimed at ensuring that further career progression of the applicant (Maj Gen Handa) is effectively sealed,” the petition said.
In July 2007, Major General Handa took over as the GOC of the 57 Mountain Division in the North-East and General Singh (then Lt Gen) joined as Army Commander, Eastern Command, on March 1, 2008.
Major General TS Handa is a recipient of the Sena Medal and two Chief of Staff commendation cards.
He was 11th in the order of merit when he passed out of the Indian Military Academy (IMA).
As GOC, 57 Mountain Division, he carried out the first successful operation by the army in the Loktak lake in Manipur, where eight militants were killed.
Handa alleged that his ACRs from July 2, 2007, to June 30, 2008, and from July 1, 2008, to October 6, 2008, had been spoiled by General Singh. He claimed that a citation was also sent for a distinguished service award but General Singh did not forward it. As a result, Handa said he could not be selected for the rank of Lt Gen in the special selection board in December 2009.
He filed a non-statutory complaint on ACRs on April 19, 2010, but it was rejected by General Singh (by that time he had been elevated as General) on June 10, 2010. He filed a statutory complaint on August 27, 2010, citing that he was rated poorly in ACRs because he was the deputy MS when General Singh asked for changing his date of birth. It was rejected on February 21, 2011, by under secretary to the Government of India, R Sundar.
After that, he approached Chandigarh Bench of the AFT, which issued a notice to Gen Singh. In his reply, the army chief said that there was no “extraneous consideration, bias, and subjectivity” while assessing Handa in the ACRs.