Amid reports of a growing rift between the union government and the army, the Centre on Tuesday came out in support of army chief Gen VK Singh at the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), where Gen Singh has been accused by an officer of jeopardising his career.
Maj Gen TS Handa has alleged that Gen Singh spoiled his two annual confidential reports (ACRs) as he did not accede to Gen Singh's demand of changing his year of birth in the records from 1950 to 1951.
Gen Singh is set to retire on May 31 as the Supreme Court has refused to order change of his year of birth to 1950.
Praying for setting aside the ACRs, Handa, presently posted with the Army Training Command, Shimla, claimed before the AFT that when he was serving as deputy military secretary (selection boards and complaints) in December 2006, Gen Singh (then Lt Gen and 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.
"I was the head of the section where it (the case for change of DoB) was to be processed. It was decided against him. That is precisely [why] I was victimised… I was present at the wrong place at the wrong time and I was blown apart," Handa had submitted in the court at the last hearing.
On Tuesday, the government defended Gen Singh, saying that there was no record of a meeting between Gen VK Singh and Handa.
"The averments made by the applicant (Handa) are based on his own perceptions, media reports and conjectures, and not derived from the official records, as were available with MS-8 Section (where Handa was posted in 2006)," the government submitted.
It further said that Handa "has invoked the fallacy of 'post hoc ergo procter hoc' to establish a cause and effect" between the DoB issue and the grading he was awarded by Gen Singh. "These allegations are false and baseless and have been made with an aim to somehow make out a case to seek relief," it added.
Capt Sandeep Bansal (retd), lawyer for Gen Singh, has submitted that Handa raised the issue of date of birth of Gen Singh in the statutory complaint as an afterthought, and not in non-statutory complaint filed earlier.
It was Gen Singh who, in his capacity as the chief of army staff (COAS), dismissed the non-statutory complaint.
But here, too, the government defended Gen Singh, "The non-statutory complaint was considered by the collegiate comprising COAS, VCOAS (vice-chief of army staff) and all the general officers commanding-in-chief, and they have recommended rejection of the complaint. Since the power to decide non-statutory complaint is with COAS, he decided the same, based on the recommendations of the collegiate."