Breaking his silence on the controversy surrounding the army chief’s age, defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday said that Gen VK Singh would retire next year.
This comes on the heels of Singh filing a statutory complaint with Antony against the ministry’s directive in July that he would not be allowed to change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951. Antony told Rajya Sabha that Singh’s date of birth (DoB) was maintained as May 10, 1950, at the time of his selection as corps commander in 2006, army commander in 2008 and army chief in 2010.
“Accordingly, he is left with eight months and 23 days of service as on date. However, a different DoB finds mention in certain documents. Recently, Gen Singh has filed a statutory complaint in the matter,” Antony said in a written reply.
The controversy arose in May 2006 when conflicting DoBs for Singh were detected in the records of the Military Secretary’s branch (1950) and the Adjutant General’s branch (1951).
Singh will have to retire next May on turning 62, going by the DoB ratified by 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. Four former chief justices and a former solicitor general have backed Singh’s claim that he was born in 1951.
Independent India has had 26 army chiefs. Only twice has the government interfered with the succession line-up.