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Government has right to determine tenure: Army chief

New Delhi: Although army chief General V.K. Singh has moved the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of his statutory complaint seeking declaration of his date of birth as May 10, 1951, he has said that the central government has the right to determine his tenure.

General Singh said in documents filed in court that he “wishes to make it abundantly clear that regardless of the result of this petition or controversy, the respondent (government) undoubtedly has the right to determine the tenure of the office of the chief of the army staff”.

Gen Singh’s statutory complaint filed Aug 26, 2011 was rejected by the defence ministry Dec 30, 2011.

He sought the quashing of the rejection of his statutory complaint and a July 21, 2011 memorandum, and consequent order of July 22, 2011, rejecting his plea for recording May 10, 1951 as his date of birth instead of May 10, 1950.

By the impugned memorandum, the ministry said that Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati had opined that the amendment of the date of birth was not legally tenable and there was no scope for opening the issue now.

The army chief’s petition said it was adjutant general’s branch of the army that was mandated to maintain the record of an officer from the time he was commissioned in the army.

All other branches of the army headquarters had to reconcile their records on the basis of the records of the adjutant general’s (AG) branch – which has recorded his date of birth as May 10, 1951.

He said that the records of the military secretary (MS) branch were kept in secrecy and were not available for scrutiny by any officer.

The MS branch on the other hand refused to reconcile its records with the records maintained by the official record keeper – the AG branch, the petition said. The MS branch has recorded Gen Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1950.

Gen Singh said that he was “personally assured” by his predecessor Gen Deepak Kapoor that his date of birth row would be resolved.

But when nothing happened for three months, he wrote a letter to Gen Kapoor seeking justice July 1, 2008.

Gen Kapoor was told that Lt. Gen. Khare and Lt. Gen. Gangadharan who headed the MS branch in 2006 and 2007 respectively had assured Gen Singh that “all necessary reconciliations with regards to the clarification on date of birth would be carried out”, the petition said.

This assurance was given to Gen Singh when he met them seeking reconciliation of the age record.
The entire controversy is rooted in Gen Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1950, in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) application form. Gen Singh said the error occurred because he filled the form with help from his teacher.

The army chief said he came to know in 1985 about the discrepancy in his date of birth record and initiated steps for getting it clarified.

Gen Singh was told by one of his colleagues that his date of birth in the army list was recorded as May 10, 1950.

The petition said that the identity card issued to Gen Singh by the IMA before his commissioning indicated his date of birth as May 10, 1951. The identity card was issued after an “elaborate procedure for verification”.

“He (General Singh) was assured that the confidential records carried the actual date of birth of May 10, 1951 and that the list would be automatically updated and the discrepancy would be removed,” the petition read.

It was “highly probable and reasonable that there was an inadvertent and apparent error which had occurred in the application form submitted by the officer to the UPSC when petitioner was a minor,” the petition said.

The army chief regretted that the controversy had got “undue publicity and coverage in the print and electronic media”.

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