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Honour, not tenure, Army chief pleads

delhi Updated: Dec 11, 2011 02:07 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Making a case that his date of birth was related to honour and not tenure, army chief General VK Singh has requested defence minister AK Antony that a statutory complaint in this regard be expedited and his case be re-examined on legal merit.

The General insists that his date of birth is May 10, 1951 and not 1950, both of which exist in different departments of the army. The defence ministry has rejected his plea.

If Singh’s year of birth is accepted as 1951, he will retire on May 31, 2013, instead of 2012, as the case is now.

Top ministry sources said the army chief sent a polite letter to Antony this week stating that the age issue was all about his honour among the million-strong army officers and men and not whether he would get an extended tenure.

The ministry has got the age issue examined by the attorney general twice on the grounds that whether the change in the year of birth from 1950 to 1951 would alter succession plans in the Indian Army.

The law ministry earlier, in a reply to an RTI query, ruled that Singh was born in 1951. However, on July 22, 2011, the defence ministry ruled that the year of birth was 1950.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have kept himself in the loop with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, engaging Gen Singh last month to amicably resolve the matter.

Gen Singh feels he’d be called a liar by his men if the government forces 1950 year of birth on him. Even though statutory complaints are normally disposed of within 90 days, Antony feels the mandatory period is only binding on the Army Headquarters and not on the defence minister.

The statutory complaint is still being processed by the law ministry and the defence secretary’s office.