This Article is From Jan 17, 2012

10 big facts about Government vs Army chief

10 big facts about Government vs Army chief
New Delhi: The battle over the Army chief's age is now in the Supreme Court. General VK Singh has become the first serving Army chief to take the government to court. Here are 10 things you should know about the dispute.

  1. What's the problem? General VK Singh says he was born on May 10, 1951; the government says it has to go by documents that list his date of birth as 1950. The General has appealed twice to the Defence Ministry in recent past to accept his claim. Earlier too, he had asked the Army Headquarters to correct his date of birth. That did not work. So he has now taken the government to court. He filed a petition in the Supreme Court yesterday.
  2. What's the confusion? Documents within the Army show conflicting dates. At least two say General Singh was born on May 10, 1950; a majority - including his ID card, his service record, his medical reports and his promotions upto the rank of Lt. Gen say he was born on May 10, 1951. The government says that General Singh should have moved to have the changes in the records much earlier - rules say this must be done within two years of the documents being presented by the officer to the army. General Singh says he is not asking for change but only cirrection.

  3. Is this about his tenure? General Singh has said he wants to protect his honour and integrity - basically, have the government accept his claim, so it's clear that he did not try to misrepresent the facts. He also says that his battle is not about when he should retire. But if the government were to accept 1951 as his date of birth, he would be eligible for another year as the head of the Army.

  4. What is the government worried about? The Attorney General has advised the government that changing the records now could trigger "large-scale disaffection in the Army." An extension for General Singh in the top office would also alter the succession plans.

  5. Some key documents: The General says his matriculation or school-leaving certificate shows 1951 as his date of birth and should be given considerable weight. However, his entrance form for the National Defence Academy (NDA) states 1950 as his year of birth - this is a document that the government says it cannot ignore. General Singh says it was a mistake which was corrected well in time.

  6. The government has said it has no doubts about General Singh's integrity. "Just nobody...nobody should believe that the General has not spoken the truth," said Law Minister Salman Khurshid last week to NDTV. But "rules are rules," he added.

  7. Who else is involved? A Public Interest Litigation or PIL has been filed by an ex-officers' association which supports General Singh. This petition will most likely be heard on Friday.

  8. The dispute over General Singh's age began in 2006 when a bureaucrat noticed two different dates in his records when his name came up for promotion and sought clarification from the Military Secretary's branch, which handles promotions. The Military Secretary's branch had the year of birth down as 1950 and that's what it shared with the Defence Ministry without cross-checking the date with the Adjutant General's branch, which is the official record-keeper for  army officers.

  9. In 2008, for another promotion, the Army Headquarters asked the General to accept 1950 as his official age, giving him 24 hours to do so or else face disciplinary action. The then Army Chief and the Military Secretary said that other people in the queue were also suffering due to the delay in this case. Faced with an ultimatum, General Singh wrote back the same day to say "whatever decision is taken in the organisation's interest is acceptable to me."

  10. The front-runner to replace him has so far been Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, the Eastern Army Commander. However, a court case filed recently accuses him of being involved in a fake encounter in Anantnag in 2001, and has asked for a detailed investigation.