Decision on Indian Army chief’s age soon: Antony

April 25th, 2011 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) With a controversy raging over Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh’s age, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday said the government will soon take a decision on the issue, but refused to set a deadline.

“Why set a deadline? Before that, we have to examine the whole thing and ultimately the government will take a decision,” Antony said responding to reporters’ queries on the issue on the sidelines of a defence event here.

The controversy relating to Singh’s age reared its head following a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking his correct date of birth. But two branches in the army headquarters had different dates in their records, forcing the army to send the matter to the legal adviser in the defence ministry.

The Military Secretary’s branch, which decides on appointments and promotions, has May 10, 1950 as Singh’s date of birth in its records on the basis of his Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) application for joining the National Defence Academy.

On the other hand, the Adjutant General’s branch, which handles pay, pensions and welfare, has May 10, 1951, as his date of birth.

Unable to decide on Singh’s correct date of birth, the defence ministry sent the matter to the law ministry, which advised that his school leaving certificate should be the document on the basis of which date of birth should be decided.

Following the law ministry’s advice, the defence ministry asked the army headquarters to submit all relevant documents relating to Singh’s date of birth to it for arriving at a decision on the issue.

The matter will now go to the appointments committee of cabinet for a final decision.

Meanwhile, senior officers a the army headquarters said the file for Singh’s appointment as army chief had clearly mentioned May 10, 1950 as his date of birth. Considering his appointment order, the army chief will have to retire on May 31, 2012.

The tenure of an army chief is for three years or till he turns 62, whichever is earlier.

However, if the government decides to review his date of birth, Singh may get an extended tenure for about a year more.

The issue has the potential of upsetting the succession plan in the 1.13 million-strong Indian Army, splitting its top brass and throwing up two possible successors.

If V.K. Singh retires on May 31, 2012, the present eastern army commander, Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, is likely succeed him as chief. If the former’s tenure extends by another year, then the present northern army commander, Lt.Gen. K.T. Parnaik, will probably be the next chief.

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