A day after hosting the country’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and defence minister AK Antony on Army Day, army chief Gen VK Singh on Monday became the first serving chief in the military’s history to drag the government to the Supreme Court to have his year of birth declared as 1951 as opposed to 1950 as fixed by the Centre.
Hindustan Times had first reported on the controversy over the army chief’s date of birth last April. Revealing his intention to fight to the finish, Singh filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution (ensuring the right to legal remedy), accusing the government of violating his fundamental right by not allowing him to change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951.
The chief did not move the Armed Forces Tribunal as the quasi-judicial body’s members are junior to him in rank. Filed by counsels Puneet Bali and Prabhjit Jauhar, the writ sought quashing of the defence ministry’s orders of July 21, 2011 and December 30, 2011, turning down Singh’s claim that he was born in 1951.
Singh’s form for admission to the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla carries 1950 as his year of birth, in contrast to 1951 in his matriculation certificate.
The chief has claimed that the error in recording his year of birth as 1950 in the UPSC form was rectified after the commission wrote a letter to his father on June 18, 1966, seeking a clarification. Relevant documents were submitted on June 27, 1966.