The controversy around army chief Gen VK Singh's date of birth (DoB) took a political turn on Thursday, reaching Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's doorstep.
At least 20 MPs, cutting across party lines, met the PM in support of the army chief's claim that his DoB should be considered to be May 10, 1951 and not May 10, 1950, as ordered by the defence ministry.
The PM asked the MPs not to politicise the matter and refused to accept their memorandum.
"The army is a professional organisation. I believe MPs should not get involved in such matters," the PM told them.
This comes at a time when the army and defence ministry have locked horns over the issue.
After the defence ministry decided it will not allow Gen Singh to change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951, the adjutant general's (AG) branch on Tuesday questioned the legality of the ministry's July 21 directive. Singh was appointed army chief on the basis of the 1950 DoB.
The AG's branch, which maintains personnel records, has asked the defence ministry for an explanation regarding legal documents it has relied upon in fixing Singh's DoB as May 10, 1950.
Singh will have to retire next May on turning 62, going by the DoB ratified by defence minister AK Antony, after being cautioned twice by the law ministry that any change in his year of birth would violate army rules and lead to unnecessary litigation. But if 1951 is taken as Singh's DoB, he will retire in 2013.
Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh is expected to replace VK Singh if he retires next year. However, the top job will go to Lt Gen KT Parnaik if Singh were to retire in 2013.