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Supreme court judge recuses himself from hearing PIL on army chief’s age

Supreme Court judge Justice T.S. Thakur Friday recused himself from hearing a petition seeking the quashing of the defence ministry’s July 21, 2011 order fixing Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1950.

As a consequence of this order, the army chief will retire a year earlier than he would have if his date of birth shown on his matriculation certificate was taken into account.

The apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice T.S. Thakur decided not to hear the petition by the Grenadiers Association – after Justice Thakur recused himself.

Now the petition, seeking the restoration of Gen. V.K. Singh’s date of birth of May 10, 1951, will be taken up by another bench after the winter break starting from Monday. The Grenadiers Association – was represented by senior counsel Bhim Singh and counsel Manohar Singh Bakshi.

Assailing the July 21, 2011 order, the petition said that it was incorrect for the military secretary’s branch to have raised the issue of date of birth of the army chief after such a long period when Gen. Singh had consistently maintained that his date of birth was May 10, 1951.

The petition said that Gen. Singh’s claim that his actual date of birth was May 21, 1951 was authenticated by his matriculation certificate which also recorded the same date.

‘If the issue is considered in its correct perspective, it is the MS – branch which was in error in raising the issue at such a belated stage and it cannot be said that Gen. V.K. Singh was seeking a change in his DOB – at this stage,’ the petition said.

It said Gen. Singh had filed a detailed statutory complaint to the defence minister with all relevant documents but Antony later made a statement in Rajya Sabha stating the army chief’s date of birth was May 10, 1950. This clearly shows that the defence minister decided on the statutory complaint of the army chief without going into its merits, the petition said.

The PIL said that the question before the court is ‘whether date of birth as mentioned on the matriculation certificate could be re-determined or changed, or advanced by the government at their pleasure’.

‘Uncertainty regarding the service tenure of the present Chief of the Army Staff Gen. V.K. Singh may affect the decision making powers of the chief of the army staff but it will also affect the capability, strength, morale and courage of the Indian Army as a whole,’ it contended.



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