Indian army chief takes birthday row to top court

January 17, 2012 8:16 am


General V.K. Singh (R) is asking for his birthday to be changed on official records/AFP
NEW DELHI, Jan 17 – India’s army chief has filed a lawsuit against the government in the Supreme Court asking for his birthday to be changed on official records to prevent him being forced into retirement.

In the petition filed on Monday seen by AFP, General V.K. Singh asked the Supreme Court to recognise his birthday as May 10, 1951, making him one year younger than his age shown on government records which state his date of birth as May 10, 1950.

Indian government employees have to retire at 62, which means Singh would leave service in May this year unless he wins his case in the Supreme Court.

The petition by the highly-decorated veteran of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan is the first such case in India of a serving army chief taking the government to court.

Calling the decision “a matter of honour and not tenure,” Singh pressed the court to accept the date recorded in his school-leaving certificate as his correct date of birth.

The defence ministry has previously rejected Singh’s claim twice, citing the date marked on his documents when he entered into public service.

Calls to the defence ministry went unanswered on Tuesday morning.

A source close to the case told AFP the general, army chief since March 2010, felt that the controversy had tarnished his public image, leaving him with little choice but to approach the court.

The unprecedented development has raised questions about the appropriateness of Singh’s actions.

His predecessor, General Deepak Kapoor, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that “an army chief going to court on personal matters is not good for the force or the nation as a whole.”

But other retired officers said Singh had every right to take legal action. Former air force chief P.V. Naik told PTI: “I think it is a personal issue and he should do whatever he thinks is right.”

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