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Army Chief moves Supreme Court on age issue

Last updated on: January 16, 2012 19:43 IST

In an unprecedented move, Army Chief Gen V K Singh today moved the Supreme Court against the government's rejection of his claim on his date of birth.

In writ petition, he is believed to have questioned the government's decision to treat his date of birth as May 10, 1950, instead of May 10,1951 as claimed by him on the basis of his matriculation certificate and other documents.

This is the first time that any Service chief has dragged the government to the court of law. The petition has been filed and senior advocate U U Lalit will represent Gen Singh before the apex court.

In his petition, Gen Singh has said the matter related to his "honour and integrity" as he headed a force of 13 lakh personnel.

He questioned why the government had chosen to "change" his date of birth after he had spent 36 years in service and promoted throughout the career.

Gen Singh's action caps months of tussle between him and the ministry of defence during which he made two statutory representations to the ministry.

Defence Minister A K Antony had recently rejected his statutory representation which ended all the internal appeal options on the subject for the General.

By this decision of the government, Gen Singh will have to retire on May 31.

He has been contending that May 10, 1951, should be treated as his actual date of birth as it was mentioned in his matriculation certificate but the Defence Ministry has rejected it as May 10, 1950, is the date entered in his UPSC entrance form for National Defence Academy (NDA).

Interestingly, at a press conference on Friday, the Army chief had kept his options open on the issue without disclosing the strategy.

Asked if he was contemplating resignation, he had said, "Please leave it to my judgement what do I want to do. It is an issue that concerns me. Let me decide on some action after I get time to think about myself."

Queried if he was not ruling out resignation, he said "let me find time time to think about myself."

Gen Singh, who took over as the Army Chief on March 31, 2010, has been maintaining that the issue related to his "integrity and honour".

He had said that he tackled the issue in "organisational interest".

A para-commando and veteran of 1971 Indo-Pak war succeeded Gen Deepak Kapoor.

Antony, while rejecting Gen Singh's statutory representation, had sent a letter to him expressing full confidence in his leadership.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, a member of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, last week told a press conference that the age issue of Gen Singh had been dealt with "fairly and justly".

"We hold the Army chief in great respect. He is a fine soldier. He has done remarkable service to the country. We are unhappy that the controversy should have erupted but I am hopeful that that controversy will be resolved," Chidambaram had said.

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