M A I N   N E W S

Army Chief’s date of birth row
MoD to tread ‘cautiously’
Asks Army to explain implications if ‘anomaly’ is corrected
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 27
As the controversy rages over the date of birth (DoB) of Army Chief General VK Singh, the Defence Ministry has asked the army to explain the long-term implications if the ‘anomaly’ in the DoB is corrected.

The Defence Ministry will take a final call on the issue. Before that it wants the Army to spell out the implications that will occur in the future. This will affect the line of succession and also the possibility of legal wrangles that will drag on for years, besides sullying the image of the force.

Sources said the ministry’s directive to the army came after the army sent the files to it saying there was an ‘anomaly’ in the date of birth of the Army Chief.

The controversy has erupted as two branches of the Indian Army record separate date of births of the Army Chief. The military secretary branch records the date of birth of General Singh as May 10, 1950, while the adjutant general has recorded it as May 10, 1951. At the time of his appointment as the Army Chief, General VK Singh’s date of birth of May 1950 was taken into account.

As of now, General VK Singh retires in June next. If the date of birth is changed, the Army Chief will get one more year to serve the country. The sources said the decision to give one-year extension to him will be taken by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister. All appointments, including those of Lt. Generals and Chiefs, are approved by the ACC.

As regards seeking clarification from the army to correct the ‘anomaly’, the sources said the Defence Ministry was examining all the documents related to the issue. Defence Minister A K Antony said on Monday that the government will take the final decision after due consideration. This observation by the minister was a clear indication that the ministry wanted to tread ‘cautiously’ on the issue and consider all possibilities before taking a decision.

The sources said the Army Chief had accepted 1950 as the year of birth when he was in the race for promotion as Eastern Command chief in 2008.

In case the Army Chief retires in June 2012, then the first in line for succession is Lt Gen Bikram Singh, Chief of the Eastern Command. However, in case he gets an extension, then Lt Gen KT Parnaik, the Northern Army Commander, will be the next Chief.

Earlier in the day, former DG of Assam Rifles, Lt Gen (retd) KS Yadava, said the issue was “sullying the image of the army and should be settled soon.” Commenting on the documents available with mediapersons regarding Gen V K Singh's date of birth, Gen Yadava said, “The person who leaks out confidential matters is a criminal and the person who makes use of that confidential note is equally at fault”. 





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