NEWDELHI: The Army is yet to comply with the order sent by the Ministry of Defence a week ago to reconcile the two different years of birth of its Chief General V K Singh with May 10, 1950, as determined by the government.
The letter signed by Deputy Secretary Military Service K L Nandwani has been sent to the Adjutant General branch of the Army, also called the official record keeper, to amend its records that show General Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951, which will give him an extension of another 10 months.
The Defence Ministry has dismissed its move as ‘an act of desperation’ as being dubbed by many media reports, as the Army Chief’s writ petition on the issue is scheduled for hearing in the Supreme Court on February 3. The Defence Ministry sources say that ‘it is a reiteration of the ministry’s stand’. The government has asked the Army to submit a compliance report ‘at the earliest’.
In July 2011 also, the ministry has asked the AG branch to change the General’s date of birth. But the AG Branch, instead of executing the orders, sought legal basis on which the ministry arrived at 1950 as his year of birth when all the documents with it, specifically matriculation certificate, indicate 1950 as his year of birth. The AG Branch’s act can also amount to ‘insubordination’.
It is interesting to note that the two sections within the AG branch - the Manpower Planning and Recruitment - also have different date of births. The Recruitment Department records 1950 as General Singh’s year of birth, the Manpower Planning has 1951 as the year of birth.
The battlelines are drawn as a visibly ‘upset’ Defence Ministry does not want to undertake any negotiations with the Army Chief, who they feel has backtracked on the written undertakings and verbal assurances accepting 1950 as his year of birth.
The new order is seen as the ministry’s move to get rid of the root of the age controversy. The AG branch records General Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951, whereas the MS branch records says he was born on May 10, 1950. Sources say that the letter to the AG branch asks it to change the Chief’s year of birth to 1950.
The anomaly in the Army records had crept in as the NDA forms show May 10, 1950, as his date of birth. The General has contended that it was an inadvertent error. But, the two sets of records remained in the Force for over 36 years. Also in 2006, when the Chief came up for promotion as Lieutenant General, he gave in writing to accept 1950 as his year of birth ‘in organisational interests’ and ‘as directed’ by his seniors.
Defence Minister AK Antony, who always dissuaded from publicly debating the issue, has been ‘upset’ on the turn the events have taken. On his official response after the development, Antony said the ministry would put its case before the court and would wait for its verdict.