Army chief moves Supreme Court against defence ministry - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 16 January 2012

Army chief moves Supreme Court against defence ministry

Gen VK Singh (centre) with senior army brass at the recently concluded Exercise Sudarshan Shakti in Rajasthan. Who will succeed him as army chief is now an open question (photo courtesy Livefist blog)

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Jan 12

Army Chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh, is now on a full-blown confrontation course with the government. He has filed a writ petition with the Supreme Court, asking for his date of birth to be recognised as 10th May 1951. The MoD, however, has determined that he was born on 10th May 1950, a date that General Singh rejects as having been erroneously entered in 1965 on his application form for joining the National Defence Academy.

That MoD’s determination would make the general liable to retire on the last day of May this year, the month that he completes 62 years. But if the Supreme Court upholds his petition, General Singh would serve till 31st March 2013, when he completes three years as chief.

The date that is determined as General Singh’s birth date will determine who succeeds him as army chief. If the current chief retires this May, Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, the eastern army commander is likely to succeed him, by virtue of being the senior-most army officer on that day. If the Supreme Court appeal is upheld, the next army chief could be the current northern army commander, Lieutenant General KT Parnaik.

Business Standard learns that Gen VK Singh’s legal team in the Supreme Court includes Chandigarh-based lawyer, Puneet Bali, who filed the petition in the court today; and Uday U Lalit, the CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in the 2G spectrum case.

A writ petition in the Supreme Court would ordinarily come up for hearing in the “mentioning list” in about one week. However, when a case has wide implications, or when a petitioner has requested for an early hearing, the court registry often lists the case early for hearing.

Asked by Business Standard whether General Singh would push for an early hearing, Puneet Bali confirmed, “We might make the request for an early hearing tomorrow, depending upon the instructions of the client.”

While the army chief’s personal staff officers declined comment when contacted by Business Standard, Puneet Bali said, “The army chief regards this an issue that concerns his personal honour and he feels very bitter at the aspersions that have been cast over his credibility.”

Crucial to the case could be the judge that hears the matter. According to the Supreme Court handbook, released by Chief Justice Balakrishna, all matters that could be filed before the court are divided into “47 subject categories” and each category is assigned to one or more judges. Each fresh case is placed in one of these subject categories and comes up before the judge(s) responsible for that category of cases.

Also muddying the waters is another petition, which has weighed in on the army chief’s behalf. Filed by a little-known Rohtak-based ex-servicemen’s body, the “Grenadiers Association”, this is due for hearing in the Supreme Court on 20th Jan. It is learned that Gen VK Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony have both been named as respondents in this petition.


  1. I agree...its an issue well beyond the individual. It has more to do with setting right the skewed inter-relationship between the MoD and the Services. In this context former Cabinet Secy TSR Subramaniam's were particularly odious.

    ~ ravin KUMAR.

  2. We tell our politicians... and bureacrats... cling to power by the most devious methods... how wrong we are... to that category we can now add... Indian Army Chiefs... emphatically...

  3. He is the man with some balls..
    Never heard of any army chief suing his own govt for an age issue.

    This govt is smelling its own last.
    Jai VK Singhji...

  4. If the General resigns on any date before 31 May, the?

    If the Govt dismisses his Services before 31 May, then?

    I am sure things will work out well. However, was it worth it that the MoD chose to politicise their favoured next general? What image and impact shall it carry on the team?
    Is it correct to tamper with theses issues?

  5. Indian Army is always looked upon as a role model, motivator and patriotism builder for this entire nation. It commands respect across all religion, sects, states and tribes and people unamiously put faith. Successive heads of such an institution have very seriously tarnising this holy institution's image such as Deepak Kapoor in Adarsh, Gen V K Singh age row.
    Above a certain stature of highness, interest, one shall have sensibility to serve only national cause. Specifically to Gen V K Singh, the general has already availed the promotions by aggreeing to 1950 age. He could not have been gained ranks and promotion if his did not suited the criteria. Now he is seeking reraising the settled issue. General Thimayya did not agree with Pandit Nehru and made an issue, although he was correct in his point of view about threat from China. But this nation is a democracy and army is subordinate to civil govt. The general shall understand that we are not China or Pakistan, and respect the govt decision and upload nation before self.

  6. Issues do come with all people and human. Military is not untouched by this. What will happen if Indian Army follows General's VK Singh's model of seeking justice.. Major, Captain, Lt, Brigadier and even Jawans start knocking the door of judiciary. Army has a system in place, and sometimes someone has to compromise. VK Singh is now COAS, the highest rank. What more he wants. He shall be thankful to Army and Govt of India to be provided this high post, and respectfully go in the annals of history. Gen.. please dont destroy this lovely army whom our kids and new gen loves and sees as role model.

  7. Col. Shukla

    I was amazed at the restraint you showed in last night's debate on NDTV with KC Singh. The only people more craven than our Babus are...Pakistani Generals!

  8. The General himself doesn't have faith in Army's system which he himself headed. He doesn't even have trust in government of india whom he served. it is lowest point for army.

  9. Yes, this was long overdue. Forces can not take lying down and should get the respect due to them.

  10. The amount of media attention this thing is getting is phenomenal. And there seems to be no dearth of so called defence 'experts' (mostly retired generals) who always have their two pennies' worth to chip in. Most feel that this is wrong on the part of a service chief. My I humbly ask these so called self professed 'experts' why? Is it too much to raise one's voice against any injustice being meted out to someone. Isn't the Army Chief a citizen of this country? Just because he's from the army should mean that he should keep his mouth shut and blindly follow orders? And some publications and news channels are making him out to be a greedy monster while he's (in my opinion) nothing of the sort. He's just exercising his constitutional right to seek redressal to an injustice that he feels needs to be corrected. And who in God's name are these 'experts' who are regaling the various media chanels with their sagacious & unsolicited advice. Do they know of the merits of the case? Let the Supreme Court investigate and weigh the pros & cons of the case. And for heaven's sake , these so called 'experts' should stay off teh air.. If they can't do that, at least they should watch what they speak. Already, I'm sure the Govt would have decided that it'll procrastinate & delay whatever answers it has to provide to the Supreme Court and thus the Chief will have to retire ( as per procedures) in May this year, thereby clearing the way for whoever is next. So the Govt has already this ace up their sleeves. Let the General seek redressal as he's entitled as a citizen of India, and no more of this "why should army question orders". The army reflects what is today's society - aware , and certainly not one to take nonsense without questioning the rationale or motive. This IMHO is not a 'rebellion' or 'indiscipline of any kind - just a need of a distinguished army man to clear his name and integrity.

  11. Shukla sir,
    saw your comments on NDTV. wht ails Gen Prasad????why can we not talk in one voice at least for once????gen prasad was seen saying that It's the divine duty of a soldier to "obey orders"...Is he for real?????????Do we have to obey all orders,even if they are incorrect and unrighteous?????Had it been a case involving IAS/IPS all of them would have been singing the same tune!!!!!case in point is Sanjeev bhat wherein the IPS association passed a resolution supporting bhat!!!!and here we are fighting among ourselves!!!!!

  12. It is a simple case of an officer moving to the honorable court for correction of his Dob and so his Dor. It need not to be considered any political or military matter. If this is unconstitutional then obviously this case is not going too far.

  13. So whats your take on this Broadsword?

  14. Government has handled the issue well by taking the right action at the same time not taking issue to public. Unlike what Jaswant singh said MOD was not incompetent but was adamant that government side was fair. I hope government fight this issue and wins it, which will set a precedence that Law and Fairness is supreme and that it will not bend even for the greatest of offices.


    India has traditionally been a country where there always exists a dual school of thought, viz., one for it and the second one opposing it (it can be any topic, from pin to piano)

    But when it comes to respect it is at the highest level for the the defence units. Infact there is no other respect left for any other public service.

    Congress has the highest levels of tainted people in its party. Antony was amongst the cleanest of the current ministers and also the most effective defence minister in recent times. But here one has to give in to the army chief, cause by fighting a battle with the ruling party means his post retirement future is washed out. Infact the current position itself can be in danger, so there is nothing great to benefit by adding a year to his service, where he has dedicated his entire life time. For this reason alone if nothing, but one should just blindly favour the army chief. But we are a democracy (oops..congress ruled us for more than 85% of our total independent time, then sorry we are a de-monarchy, Gandhi kings and queen) and since in there if three retired attorney generals have voted in favour of the army chief, but still the congress party wants to turn a blind eye to it, than we definitely are not a democracy, but a pure form of communism, where Congress party wants to rule for eternity in the name of democracy.

    I think Chinese govt. is a better and more transparent one. It openly admits it is not a democracy and it is a communist state. They are atleast honest to themselves and the world. We are being fooled by congress into believing that we are a democracy.

    A democracy in the hands of such people where after more than 60 years of independence, we have poverty and literacy problem. Cause if everyone is educated how will they vote for such tainted politicians and bring them to power year after year.

    God bless India...sarcastically it would seem surrendering to China might be a better idea then to suffer under Congress rule. Where to fill in the pockets of the politicians every Indian is penalised in the name of inflation and price hike of every commodity, be it essential or life saving ones.

  16. article posted at 0735 in the morning, but no comments till 2320 in the night. why?

  17. It is a matter of concern that Chief of Army has to move court for issue related to his date of birth.
    The question is, if a man fights a case in supreme court, can he concentrate on his job. Should he not proceed on leave till the case is settled.
    It is pertinent to ask what the present Chief of Army has achieved for the nation. The people of India has an apprehension that army has not done any planning or preparations to counter the Chinese intrusions during last five years.
    The Chief of Army has not assured the nation regarding the capability of Indian Army to repulse Chinese attack for a long time.
    We wonder what the army has done during recent time under the leadership of the present Army Chief to encourage self reliance in arms and ammunitions. The army must remember that both Pakistan and China are occupying Indian territory.

  18. Mr. Manmohan Singh: Just to let you know you have no clothes on: See here:

  19. @P.K.Chaudri,

    Rest assured IA is more than capable of defending against the PLA. There is a reason why PLA has not invaded us after 1962. and the fact that they went back to where they have started.

    PLA knows it cannot win.

    So kindly stop blaming the IA Chief. It is not his job to approve artillery or weapons sales.

  20. Anon 08:28
    your rattling could be termed as sibalish slander....take them away or we will issue you a TAKE DOWN NOTICE!!!! Ha, ha, ha....

    Definition of Sibalish Slander: Don't say anything against my boss or else it will be deemed offending the (holy) prophet.

    Dude on lighter side, we all can have a signature campaign to be included in this celebrity list of yours....

  21. Mr Abid

    Gen has earned his place through his sweat and blood. Undeserving candidates can't even trespass this far, leave aside serving. So don't challenge the valor of the para commando... to begin with. He is exactly doing what he should be doing. In fact, it is only him seeing the BIGGEST PICTURE...this episode will lay ground for future just Military-Civilian engagement.

    For sake of bench-marking threats, lets analyse these to statements:

    THREAT No.1
    Pakistan's military is warning of "grievous consequences" for the country, following the prime minister's remarks that army and intelligence chiefs acted unconstitutionally.

    THREAT No.2
    Minister of state for defence, MM Pallam Raju has said that the Army Chief going to court over his age issue was unfortunate. "The Army Chief moving court does not augur well for the Ministry of Defence or the Army."

    Across the border we all are same, but it is for us to understand who are villains are

  22. anon@08:28,
    Wht's wrong with you?how can you call army chief a devious man???you guys who stand up for nothing, fall for everything..........why can't the chief go to court???leaving apart the "honour and integrity" why should he retire early and earn less for his children????this is because of myopia of the self proclaimed "saints" like you that the forces are in this state.
    Here's a man trying to sort out corruption and you are against him?????Shame on you!!!



  24. Most of the govt. babus have not seen a training field, General VK Singh has faced a battlefield. To pass opinions about someones judgement (Like KC Singh did, among other bureaucrats and lawyers during the various televised debates) requires at least 2 prerequisites- knowing the facts that other person knows, understanding his/her mental make up. These non servicemen at this point have neither- the facts will unravel, an elite infantryman's metal fiber is unique. It is this resilience that allows the cadet to successfully complete elite-unit training and then walk into war facing live gunfire.

    General VK Singh knows the facts and his mental makeup will not allow him to quit a rightful cause. By showing courage to stand up and cling to truth, he has earned himself another admirer (he must already have many from the units he has commanded directly).

    General, there is youth in this country that stands with you. We salute you and people like you who give our country a future.

  25. The MoD, however, has determined that he was born on 10th May 1950

    Herr Oberst, the government and MoD *accept* that General Singh was born in May 1951.

    It's contention is that his tenure should be on the basis of the 1950 date of birth.

    Its silly, the way this case is not about his actual birth date, but what the records say.

  26. I like to recall two instances:

    1. When Gen Sinha was serving I was in the same formation as his own unit which was all set to move to Delhi. Except for surpise, nothing else happened when he was sacked. It was business as usual. I am sure that is the way it is today. Not even being discussed in bars because very few offrs drink today!! I am convinced considering the way senior retd offrs are fighting for OROP for the jawans and offrs all of us are quite sick of the way the def services are being treated by the Ministry. We are surrendering medals and justifying it. And while I may not agree to that I support the right to do so. I am equally convinced that almost every single serving offr of the armed forces, especially the youngsters, would be supporting the action of the COAS, though quite rightly he/she cannot express the same.

    2. When Gen Joshi died suddenly there was a lot of debate on his successor. Ultimately it went to Gen Choudhary the ARTRAC Cdr who was the senior most at that time but had not commanded an active army. It really debunks the theory of succession. As you rightly point in your NDTV programme at such high ranks, you hold office based on a date of birth. I am sure all holding the rank of Army Cdr are competent enough to take the final step.

    Finally a word about Admiral Pereira. There was a very interesting article in the TOI several years ago soon after he died.
    I do not recall his predecessors name but it was reported the Govt wanted to sack him. Admiral Pereira is believed to have said, that if you do, I will not take over. There was no sacking and Pereira took over in due course. That is the kind of stories we want to hear of our Chiefs and not stories about Adarsh. I think the time has come to stand up and be counted and the current Chief has done just that.


  27. MS its neither about record, nor about our educated, but illiterate media and learned Military debaters put across in televised debates.

    It is about a "Whistle Blower" fighting for unfair treatment given to him because he wants to set things straight.

    Today's express news ( suggest it could have ended all well.

    How uncoordinated and heartless are these fellows. They listen to their mischievousness babus but not to their own Head of Army. Should'nt St Antony be probing who at MOD leaked & instigated India Today article. St. Antony is furious at Gen, but instead he should be furious at his so called 'Kerala Mafia' which rule the power circle in capital now days. Again case of appeasement and favoritism not governed by values. Being honest in corrupt Govt, is not enough St. Antony - you need to have a value system as bedrock for your decision. You swing in any direction depending on benefits listed to you by your babus (the Elite of India). Sad this is called state craft in India - heartless and crude, just adding to thousand mutinies everyday, everywhere in my Motherland.

  28. The worst consequences or fall out would be if Gen JJ and Kapoor is called to the Court to explain as to why Gen Singh was born one year earlier !! And why the inquiry as requested by Jhulka was not held.

    What an embarrassment !!

  29. The Secretary of state for Support has responded for initially since the Military Primary Gen VK Singh ripped the administration to trial on the age turmoil.

  30. I read with more dismay the comments of Gen (retd) Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal (retd) FH Major that Gen VK Singh should have resigned before suing the Govt.

    The above named two officers have experience at the highest level in the Armed Forces,so here is my question - what would have been the reason(s) that Gen VK Singh would cite in his resignation? Differences with the MoD over his year of birth? Then, wouldn't we be in the same spot? What if a decision on his resignation was delayed till 31-5-2012 (quite possible given that his request was kept pending till December 2011?

    It is time that the MoD came out clear and transparent on issues like - (1)what is the accepted Govt issued document as proof of age? (2) Can that document be suprseded by any erroneous entry made at some point of time? (3) If the proof of age document stated 1951 as the year of birth, then what is the authority vested in the MoD to change year of birth? (4) What was the complete and comprehensive discussion that took place when the year of birth was know to have been altered and why did the MoD force/coerce then Lt Gen VK Singh to accept it? (5) Who were the MS and the COAS to whose attention this was brought and why didn't they take action?

  31. I came across this article would be nice if Col Shukla could enlighten us with a rebuttal.


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