It's official now. The army will get a new chief next year, with the defence ministry stating on Thursday that it won't allow Gen VK Singh to change his year of birth from 1950 to 1951.
The rare intervention by the ministry ends the controversy around Singh's conflicting dates of birth (DoB) that could have sent the succession map of the world's second-largest army into disarray.
If Singh doesn't go to court, he will retire on turning 62 next May, going by the DoB ratified by defence minister AK Antony.
The ministry was cautioned twice by the law ministry that a change in Singh's year of birth would violate rules and lead to litigation, official sources said Eastern army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh is likely to be the next chief.
HT had first reported how the army had shut the case following Singh's undertakings in 2008 and 2009, accepting 1950 as his year of birth. It was on the basis of this DoB that Singh was appointed army chief in March last year.
HT wrote on Wednesday that Singh had obtained legal opinion on the issue from former chief justice of India VN Khare - the third private opinion in his favour after the law ministry put his year of birth at 1950.
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's application form for admission to the National Defence Academy shows his DoB as May 10, 1950, but his matriculation certificate puts it at May 10, 1951.