New Delhi: Indian Army
chief General V.K. Singh suffered a blow Friday in the Supreme
Court, forcing him to withdraw his plea demanding that his birth
date be treated as May 10, 1951 and not 1950 as the government
Judges R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale made it clear that his date of
birth would continue to be May 10, 1950 and not May 10, 1951 as
mentioned in his school leaving certificate.
"The question before us is not about determination of the actual
date of birth but it concerns recognition of a particular date of
birth by the government in official service records," they ruled,
The court room was packed with over 100 lawyers and others, eager
to follow every bit of an unprecedented legal battle that pitted
the chief of a 1.13-million-strong army against the government.
While holding that Gen Singh had agitated from day one to correct
his birth date, the judges said in all primary documents the date
of birth had been mentioned as May 10, 1951.
These include his application form to the Union Public Service
Commission (UPSC) to join the National Defence Academy, that of
the Indian Military Academy and the army list.
After two and half hours of hearing, the court gave Gen Singh's
counsel a brief adjournment to explore the option of withdrawing
his petition. Left with little elbow room, the army chief did
A defence ministry spokesman said: "We are happy the matter has
been resolved amicably and the issue put to rest."
Gen Singh's lawyer Puneet Bali echoed the sentiment, telling
reporters the dragging row has been "gracefully" resolved.
Bali said Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati's statement that the
government had not questioned the integrity of the army chief was
enough to satisfy them. "The matter has been resolved amicably and
He said the army chief had repeatedly maintained that he was
fighting for his "integrity and honour" and not to seek an
extension of his tenure that ends May 31 this year.
"This was the only battle we were fighting," Bali said. "The
honour and integrity have been restored. It is not about tenure.
We are absolutely satisfied.
"Once the attorney general's statement has been made, nothing
remains. We are clear in our mind.
"We do not want to agitate further... It is the end of the
The army chief went to the Supreme Court Jan 16 insisting he was
actually born May 10, 1951, not a year earlier as claimed by the
Hearing his petition at the admission stage Friday, the apex court
asked the army chief to honour his letters of 2008 and 2009
accepting 1950 as his birth year.
It noted that the government order recognizing his birth year as
1950 does not suffer from any perversity.
The court said there was no prejudice vis-à-vis Gen Singh and that
the government had full faith in him.
Earlier, 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.
The discrepancy in Gen Singh's age was pointed out by the Military
Secretary's branch in 2006 when he was considered for promotion as
Since then, all his promotions, including as 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