In a major blow to Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh, the Supreme Court Friday refused to entertain his plea challenging a government order setting his birth date as May 10, 1950 and said it will be forced to dump it if he did not withdraw it.
The court order has left Gen. Singh with little option over his dragging contention that he was actually born on May 10, 1951 – not 1950 – and that the issue concerned his “honour and integrity”.
Hearing his petition at the admission stage, the apex court also asked the army chief to honour his letters of 2008 and 2009 accepting 1950 as his birth year.
It noted that the government order recognising his birth year as 1950 does not suffer from perversity and was not grossly erroneous.
It pointed out that some “threshold” documents Gen. Singh had submitted to the government too maintained that he was born in 1950.
The documents relate to the records of the Union Public Service Commission, the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy.
The court said there was no prejudice vis-a-vis Gen. Singh and that the government had full faith in him.
Earlier in the day, the government told the court that it had withdrawn a Dec 30, 2011 order rejecting Gen. Singh’s plea to reconcile his birth date to May 10, 1950 — which prompted him to move the court.
Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that the government had acted in response to a Feb 3 apex court querry whether it was willing to withdraw the order.
The court had then said that the Dec 30, 2011 order was “vitiated” by opinion given by Vahanvati in July 2011 that led the government to reject the army chief’s request on his age.
While the army chief maintains that he was born in 1951, the government insists he was born a year earlier.
The discrepancy was pointed out by the Military Secretary’s branch in 2006 when Gen. Singh was being considered for promotion as corps commander.
Since then, all his promotions, including as army commander in 2008 and army chief in 2010, were made on the basis that he was born in 1950.
If 1950 is taken as Gen. Singh’s year of birth, he would have to retire in May. If the year is taken as 1951, he would retire in March 2013.