The defence ministry has for the second time sought the law ministry's opinion to finally settle the controversy related to the date of birth (DoB) of the army chief General VK Singh.
The decision will determine whether General Singh retires next year or in 2013. The controversy revolves around two conflicting dates of birth of General Singh having being mentioned in the official dossiers — May 10, 1950 and May 10, 1951.
“We have received the file from the defence ministry and it is under re-examination. A final decision would soon be taken,” said a senior law ministry official.
The latest defence ministry move follows the endorsement of two different dates of birth by the law ministry in the recent past.
The first opinion by the government’s legal arm in February this year accepted General Singh’s view that May 10, 1951, be treated as his birth date.
However, when this became public, the issue snowballed into a major controversy, since official papers showed Singh had given a written commitment declaring May 10, 1950 as his date of birth, which was mentioned in his National Defence Academy form.
Following a series of investigative stories by HT, which showed the army chief had tried to reopen his date of birth issue, the defence ministry sought the opinion of the Attorney General, GE Vahanvati.
The Attorney General in his opinion, endorsed by the law minister M Veerappa Moily, advised against acceptance of any change in the DoB.
Vahanvati has cited army rules in his opinion, which debar any correction in the date of birth after two years of joining service. General Singh joined the army in 1970, but the conflicting dates existed in his records till 2006.
He pointed out that acceptance of Singh’s DoB, which showed him a year younger, could lead to a deluge of litigation by officers whose careers would be affected if the incumbent army chief continued in service for a year longer.