The Army Chief's battle over his age has got serious with the Defence Ministry saying that Gen V K Singh had accepted more than three years ago "in writing unconditionally" that his date of birth is May 10, 1950, which will deny him an extra ten months in service.
The officer had made a written acceptance in January 2008 that he will maintain the date of birth as May 10, 1950.
The Ministry has declared as "null and void and non est" and "unauthorised and illegal" the change in the date of birth to May 10, 1951 in Gen Singh's service records made by a branch of the army in February this year.
This has been revealed by the Defence Ministry in a reply to an RTI query over the raging controversy regarding Gen Singh's age, which he wants the Ministry to take as May 10, 1951 and not 1950.
The Ministry said the matter has been considered in detail in the light of facts of the case and the opinion of Attorney General and the Ministry of Law and Justice.
"As per records available with the central government, the official date of birth of General V K Singh, Chief of Army Staff is May 10, 1950.
"This was affirmed by an inquiry conducted by the Army Headquarters on the directions of central government in January 2008, at the time of officer's consideration for the promotion to rank of Army Commander," the Ministry said.
The Army Headquarters, the reply said, had also made available to the government the officer's written acceptance on January 30, 2008 that he will maintain the date of birth as May 10, 1950.
"The officer had further accepted this in writing unconditionally vide his letter dated January 31, 2008. Thereafter, the officer had suo motu reiterated the same in his letter dated November 12, 2009 addressed to the then COAS and endorsing a copy to the central government and conveyed that he had treated the issue as closed," the Ministry said.
It said that after careful consideration of the material made available by the AHQ, the legal position and the rules with regard to the procedure to be adopted in respect of such cases by the Central government, the advise of the Law Ministry and the Attorney General, the Competent Authority has decided that the order issued by the Adjutant General (Manpower and Planning) on February 25 this year on army Chief's date of birth "is unauthorised and illegal".
The central government, therefore, declared the February 25 order by ADGMP directing amendment of the date of birth as May 10, 1951 instead of May 10, 1950 as recorded as "null and void and non est".
"The officer's official date of birth will continue to be maintained as May 10, 1950," the Defence Ministry order of July 21 said.
The AG after reviewing all documents and the correspondence between the Army authorities, and the relevant rules and the case law on the issue, opined that the amendment of the date of birth is not legally tenable and the issue can not be opened at this stage on any basis whatsoever.
The AG had further opined that the procedure which was adopted was completely untenable in law.