The Cabinet Committee on Appointments — the panel headed by the prime minister that clears all top appointments in the country — had returned the defence ministry’s recommendation to appoint General VK Singh as an army commander in January 2008 for a cross-check, following the dispute over his date of birth.
The appointments committee of cabinet (ACC) cleared Singh’s promotion to commander after the ministry cleared the 1950 date (issue) with the army headquarters for the second time.
The ACC had wanted to “satisfy itself” that there was “no unresolved age issue” before it cleared Singh as one of the army’s top eight commanders — the senior-most amongst whom takes over as army chief, top government sources told Hindustan Times.
Singh had later again reassured then army chief General Deepak Kapoor in November 2009 that he would stick to the commitment of 2008 accepting 1950 as his year of birth.
In his petition filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, Singh has indicated that he was pressured into accepting 1950 as his year of birth. Top government officials monitoring the age row contested Singh’s version, saying that the defence ministry could have proceeded with the version given by Singh’s superiors but it followed “a transparent approach and keeping his interests in mind”, sought his views on the age row at every step.
A top government source said, “He need not have given that unconditional commitment and could have said that the age controversy had not been resolved. The ministry would have still recommended him to be promoted as army commander.”
He said Singh’s year of birth had to be reflected in the cabinet committee’s note for his own career progression.