UPA’s next battle… against its army chief. General VK Singh to petition Supreme Court - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 31 December 2011

UPA’s next battle… against its army chief. General VK Singh to petition Supreme Court

The Indian Army chief, General VK Singh, will petition the Supreme Court on Monday against the MoD's ruling that his date of birth will not be corrected in the official record

by Ajai Shukla
New Delhi
Business Standard, 1st Jan 12

The UPA government, still smarting from the Lokpal Bill fiasco in the Rajya Sabha, already contemplates its next battle. Business Standard has learnt that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General VK Singh, plans to petition the Supreme Court on Monday after the defence ministry (MoD) yesterday rejected his statutory complaint asking for his date of birth to be reconciled.

The army chief contends (supported by 19 documents, including matriculation and birth certificates) that he was born on 10th May 1951. That makes him eligible to serve till 31st May 2013, when he would retire after completing 62 years that month. The Adjutant General’s (AG’s) Branch, the army’s official record keeper, supports that date. But the Military Secretary’s Branch, which handles promotions, has him born on 10th May 1950 and, therefore, due for retirement on 31st May 2012. The MoD has ruled that the latter date is correct.

“The chief will leave on the 5th for an official visit to Myanmar. Before that, he would like to file his writ petition, to which he is entitled as a citizen of India,” says a close aide to Gen Singh.

Sources close to Gen Singh describe him as “extremely bitter” at the government’s “backstabbing” over this issue. The sources say that finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, was mediating with the army chief on behalf of the government. After Gen Singh refused the offer of a post-retirement ambassadorship or governorship, retorting that this was a matter of honour, Mukherjee had allegedly asked the chief to wait till 16th January 2012, when a face-saving compromise would be worked out. To the army chief’s surprise yesterday, the government rejected his petition.

Approached for comments, Pranab Mukherjee’s office admits that the finance minister met Gen Singh yesterday, in a closed-door one-on-one meeting. But the official denies that the date-of-birth issue was discussed. “So many people discuss different things with the finance minister. We cannot reveal what they talked about,” the official said.

Business Standard learns that Gen Singh’s legal team in the Supreme Court will be headed by Uday U Lalit, the CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in the 2G spectrum case. Lalit is also associated with the defence of former Karnataka chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa; controversial mining tycoon, G Janardhana Reddy; and Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman, Suresh Kalmadi.

This will be the first time that a serving defence chief takes legal recourse against the government. In handling this confrontation, the government has no precedence to fall back upon.

The MoD’s poisoned relations with the army chief are apparent in the army’s day-to-day functioning. Just days ago, the MoD rejected the army chief’s nomination of Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra for the post of Military Secretary (MS), on the grounds that he has just 6 months to serve as MS before being elevated to army commander on 1st June 2012. Now the army chief has returned the proposal to the MoD arguing that it is his prerogative to choose his MS, whether for three months or three years.


  1. We are behind you Mr.Chief, i am sure you will win. I pray everyday to god that you succeed in your battle against corruption.

  2. unable to understand ....unable to comprehend ...don't know what to make out of this....in India no one is sure as how much power an army chief wields ...unlike Pakistan where army chief is supreme no matter what....but army chief has failed to convey his stand to the public...he missed the point tat even today public will trust wat its army chief says instead of believing a corrupt government...therefore I think army chief shud issue some sort of statement on this issue..clarifying his stand and ensuring tat he is not doing it for "kursi" like our beloved politicians..who can go to any extent for tat...to general public it may appear like just another fight for power and may tarnish army's image.....he gotta move with caution..and it wud be extremely bad for him and for army if he loses out in supreme court

  3. It appears that 'Adarsh' tainted bureaucracy in collusion with the most Attorney General has succeeded in hoodwinking Antony. An honest General must never to punished for his honesty and integrity. It will set up a very bad precedent.

  4. Mr.Chief kick those asses and butt**** who interfere in your job. If they don't listen, order some Armoured Division to take out this parliamentarians.

  5. Sir,

    As you've rightly pointed out, there were better ways to resolve this issue. Instead of sitting down and discussing it, the UPA Govt has once again been consistent with its high handedness.
    MoD should know that an Army officer can take any insult but will not let anyone take their honour.


  7. Knowing this govt, I do believe that he must have gone to the court long before.

  8. The UPA Govt is arguably the worst and most corrupt mafia that has got its hands on the Indian state. The damage they would have done to its structure will be incalculable.

  9. Sad situation created by an arrogant and corrupt government. General V K Singh should fight for justice, it is a matter of honour (his and Army's). Tough times for him, but that is what IA Chief should be ready for (unfortunately this time against his own Govt.)

  10. Regarding your statement about the rejection of the chiefs' Military Secretary. Firstly you say it has to be approved by the MOD so how then can it be solely the Chiefs prerogative.

    Let us be impartial and let the courts take their decision. In my opinion neither side is wrong in standing by their ground, and neither should it be portrayed as such by any type of media.

  11. It's nice to see an army man sticking up for honor and justice. Best of luck to you sir.

    Congrats your blog is about to cross the 3 mil mark.

  12. "UPA’s next battle… against its army chief."

    He is our Army Chief. Army Chief of the People of India, not this corrupt UPA Government.

  13. The army chief and his men have the right to challenge the government or any other authority if they believe injustice is being meted out to them.
    At the same time the country has to the right to expect its men in uniform to act within the confines of law and constitution and abide by it.
    Objectively speaking, the government should not have any issues dealing with any person occupying the post of the COAS as long as each party is carrying out its duties. But if one of the parties has any personal motives or sinister design then issues start to crop up due to conflict of interests. Now the question that remains to be answered is: whose interests are being compromised if the current army chief continues in his post or retires early?
    Any which ways both the parties have to realise that the Constitution and we the People of India are supreme.
    May the truth prevail.

  14. "If they don't listen, order some Armoured Division to take out this parliamentarians."

    ^^This is the dumbest thing I've ever read anywhere!

    Those Armored Divisions belong to the people of India, not the chief of the Army.

    This kind of naked politics is "ugly" coming from the military.

    VK Sigh's legacy shouldn't be court cases and petty bickering.

  15. @ Raviprakash

    You're displaying foolishness and immaturity with your comment that the chief should "order some Armoured Division to take out this parliamentarians."

    One can only hope that you are making a poor joke and not a serious suggestion.

  16. This issue need to be viewed from the angle of brewing frustration of armed forces against bureaucratic MoD which is taking forces for a ride from the shoulders of politicians who are clueless on defence matters and are more comfortable listening to babus than generals. Saddest part is that media and general pubic is ignorant and is little interested in these matters.

  17. I know its foolish to comment like that, but it comes with a lot of helplessness i feel about this system in my country.

    I think the comment is appropriate for parliamentarians bcoz of the drama they play in parliament. Even if it needs me to be fool to criticize them. What else can i do...???

    I have read much about this age issue, i have seen many blogs and news channel standing against and for the Chief.

    If at all what you say is true about govt's offer of ambassador-ship or governorship than its show how they are openly trying to bribe him.

    Many of them have commented that he should preserve honour by resigning. That will make way for corruption. Its him who is spear heading the series of court marshal of corrupt officers.

  18. If Mr Chief is really going to take this step. He MUST BE VERY VERY SURE of winning this battle else it will effect everyone. I hope no one within ARMY will do anything funny to prevent his victory. IT IS SIMPLY ARMY Vs BABUS

  19. tdblog@yahoo.com:

    Great courage Ajai in posting this article.

    Congress party has ensured that anyone that touches its interest shall have a tough time from all angles. So posting this article and the clarity of the dispute highlighted is really great.

    I had been tracking this one thru other media sources. One thing I cant believe is that since the battle is being fought at the highest level between, Antony in the name of MOD and Army chief Mr. Singh. What are the stakes and are they very high to justify the involvement of two senior most offices in our country.

    Ajai if you could also highlight what each party wants to achieve thru such a media frenzy battle it shall be helping. Cause currently it appears like an Ego fight for MOD and Truth shall sustain fight from the army chief. Dunno if they are the ends to what both the parties involved want to achieve.

    Moreover Congress's strong arm policy is due to hit everybody in India very hard. Example such as Anti Modi campaign in Gujarat, Anti Mayawati campaign in UP. Punishing their on rebel son of ex CM and now a open rebel Mr. Janardhan Reddy, first by income tax cases against him and then by pulling in his own uncle to fight against him.

    I have huge faith that the defence institution in our country is to be proud of and hence I or like me many Indians would like to extend their support to the Army chief.

    But the truth is that with the coalition politics and a not at all efficient opposition and that too which is more vulnerable and weak like BJP, India as a country faces the biggest challenge of this century and that is allowing a autocratic rule of Congress in the name of Democracy.

    I dunno the answer but if the system has to change, their will be some painful and extreme steps required, cause the current DNA of congress spread fear or corruption or continous no improvement or low improvement in education and legacy politics, viz., Rajesh Pilots son Sachin Pilot to be a politician at a higher rank and similar is the story for Deora's and Rahul gandhi as well, all these has no ends from Congress and its allies.

    Anna Hazare movement is too soft and I feel a really extreme change might have to be fought if this entire problem needs to be addressed and resolved. Time is of essence and whether it shall happen immediately or a little later, but it looks like the Jasmine gatherings and protest similar to China shall be in the offing in India too.

    I quote the meaning of Mr. Manmohan Singh's speech, although this speech was in connection with the IMF chiefs appointment, but I think it is more relevant in his Party's ruling as well. The powerful often do not give up their positions easily.

    God bless India, the defence institution is the last hope of survival in our country, where DNA has been corrupted by Coalition politics, vote bank politics etc.
    I didnt think I was going to make this observation, but the current state of Indian democracy is a pseudo Communism in the name of democracy. And such pseudo democracy is eating into the lives of a lot of patriot Indians.
    Jai Hind...!

  20. Raviprakash, you seem to be asking for a military coup - great idea ! You just need to look across the border to see where martial law can land a country

  21. So much money to be made after kicking out this Chief who is honest. There are so many things that need to be imported even though alternative indigenous systems exists. But that will not give me, baksheesh. It's a small section of corrupt Army and MOD at play just under the nose of Saint Anthony. His dress is going to be muddied in a very short time, if he did not clean up the MOD of corrupt ones. How can he? Madam will be angry.

  22. Me not asking for martial law, all i wish is the old gen politicos should go, and new young gen politico who have respect for there country, who try different things other than this caste based, quota based politics...These old gen is really slow in taking decisions which are wrong.

  23. Me not asking for martial law, all i wish is the old gen politicos should go, and new young gen politico who have respect for there country, who try different things other than this caste based, quota based politics...These old gen is really slow in taking decisions which are wrong.

  24. Me not asking for martial law, all i wish is the old gen politicos should go, and new young gen politico who have respect for there country, who try different things other than this caste based, quota based politics...These old gen is really slow in taking decisions which are wrong.

  25. Me not asking for martial law, all i wish is the old gen politicos should go, and new young gen politico who have respect for there country, who try different things other than this caste based, quota based politics...These old gen is really slow in taking decisions which are wrong.

  26. Me not asking for martial law, all i wish is the old gen politicos should go, and new young gen politico who have respect for there country, who try different things other than this caste based, quota based politics...These old gen is really slow in taking decisions which are wrong.

  27. Disagree. Think the Chief should do the following:

    1. Stop making an issue of this: Its had a bearing on equations between the Ministry and the Army. This cannot be accepted in national interest.
    2. Irrespective of whether he is right or not, there is an Army chain of succession which is well established. He should let others have a chance since this is NOT about holding on to a post.
    3. If he still believes he has been wronged, he should retire at the stipulated time and then seek his legal remedy. If he is proven correct, he can be given additional pay for one more year and his honour will have been restored.

    He has not done this properly. He is the Army Chief. He should know that an order is an order whether you like it or not. Following orders is part of the honour that he seeks to protect.

    Surprising that he would do this since he has had a reputation of being a soldier's soldier. A key part of that is to suck it up and listen, right or wrong.

  28. Well its a shameful act first of all, that a chief can become a chief on one DoB and then when it comes to extension of tenure, he is quick to point out a discrepency of DoB, for which he choose to be silent till he became a chief. One wonders if this will set a precedent of last moment change of DoBs by all chiefs in future. It has brought shame to the dignity of army in the civil world and internationally!and over everything, the media is so very trigger happy to precipitate a military-MoD fight..!

  29. all the best general. may god be with you.

  30. In Indian system of bureaucracy, normally such representations for change in Date of Birth is never accepted. Moreover during last ten years of service, it is essentially a big NO.
    It is rightly pointed out that the army chief totally preoccupied with the issue. In such circumstance, is it possible for him to provide proper leadership to one of the largest army of the world. Did he make any plans how to counter the intrusions by Chinese army. Did he implement any of these plans. Has he gone ahead to repair the buners damaged by the Chinese army.
    Did he support any of the indigenously developed weapon systems like Arjun, the Main Battle Tank. Could he improve the sagging image of Indian Army. What is his achievement.
    Government must promote only those officers as its chief of Army / Airforce / Navy, who supports deployment of indigenously developed weapons.

  31. Oh boy this is a little awkward, doesn't the MOD & COAS need to have a respectful, proffesional & working relationship.....let's hope there is no war before May 2013.

    That being said I applaud the chiefs stand for rightiousness and honour and him turning down a cushy poistion after retirement ....Although he would make a good ambasador I think.

    To those who say he should resign, I disagree, the world. does not need quiters it needs the good to stand up and
    not let an injustice take place....if there has been an injustice? so Let us hope the chief is good....

    To me this seems like an admin oversight and if the chief has the documents to back his argument it is a no brainer.. The only thing that might besmerch the chief is if he did not try to amend the records prior to becomming COAS.... but I read he tried...so I don't know why the ministry has dug it's heels in just because of some past promotions argument?

    Anyway I think the COAS should go to court and if he wins he should announce his retirement straight after the verdict....that would show a lot of people his true grit & honour not to mention uphold high tradition and set an example to the Army & nation as a true leader should.

    Good luck chief you won my suuport

    Sydney, AUS

  32. firstly,it just shows that army itself cannot maintain the record well which has lead to this situation with two agencies having different DOB. secondly, the chief should have bothered and checked his documents and not realised this anomaly just short of his retirement as army chief. It just goes to show that the people in the armed forces are just as ca-less as the rest. Now we have given it an izzat angle and a betrayal of the Govt. to the armed forces. If the chief is so perturbed he must resign immediately and not continue in office if he feels he has been aggrieved by the Govt. decision. This will send a correct message that he does not want to enjoy the perk of his position for one more year as is being felt. Also the next army chief after him should stand by him on this issue publically.

  33. Firstly, it bring to light that the army does not maintain the records well and there is no system of correction. secondly, the army chief like most, once becoming an officer relied to much on others that they will do a good job and never checked back. This has resulted in this anomoly comming out at a time when it appears he does not want to let go of his office and is playing so that some other general in waiting does not become the next chief.As fauj's are we suddenly give everything an izzat angle and take it upon ourself to get involved in someone else battle as if we are the custodians of this nation .if the chief is so hurt he should resign immediately and not continue in office and express his displeasure to the govt. and that he cannot continue to be COAS he the govt. does not honour his words.

  34. Dear Col Ajay,

    When our commander is insulted we are insulted too.

    It is not only the honour and prestige of the Army Chief that is at stake. It is the whole Army whose honour is at stake.

    It is no secret that MOD Babus are firing the gun from politicians solder. How can they so blatantly insult our Chief and get away scot free? Don't Gen Hoon and Gen Kadyan realise that? (TOI)

    I feel Gen VK Singh should resign and the entire army to show solidarity with its commander resign en-mass. His PSOs, Army Commanders, Corps Commanders, GOCs and everyone down! What would happen to the succession plan of the Govt? Let politicians find someone from within their ilk.

    Sounds preposterous? Forget it. I was only dreaming!

  35. In spite of all the instances of MoD and politicians brow-beating our men in uniform in the name of civilian supremacy, I still personally feel that Gen. Singh should gracefully resign and then go to a court of law (especially when he is saying that it is a question of honour).

    In any case, there is a precedent. Gen. Thimmaya had resigned after his face-off with Menon only to take it back later. As military historians often point out, if Timmy hadn't taken back his resignation then our 1962 defeat would have been less ignominious. So, in my opinion Gen. Singh should resign and not take it back, even if he is vindicated at a later point of time.

  36. The issue under dispute is not a rare case. Such issues have been handled before. There will also be settled case law on such issues. Let the matter be taken up with the Supreme Court, where the decision will be given with the supporting logic.

    It is not correct for lay people to get excited over matters of law. I am sure the decision of the SC will clear matters without any scope for doubt.

  37. And what happens now. There is very little chance of MoD revising their decision. So he has the following options -

    A. He quietly leaves on 31 May 12. Last week he has already turned down the Govt offer to consider taking up another assignment of Ambassador/ Governor.
    B. He leaves on 31 May 12, and seeks legal redressal, now baring his trump card. And if he wins, what happens to the retirement. How does the judiciary address his injustice.
    C. He quits voluntarly on 30 May 12, spiting the MoD. Now Gen Shankar Ghosh also becomes eligible beside Gen Bikram. So in the true tradition of seniority, Ghosh dada would have to be appointed. Then what happens to the succession plan. How will MoD deny Ghosh dada and appoint Gen Bikram.

    And above all what message will be read by the country. Who rules - MS or P dada. Whose horse will be allowed to win.

  38. This is a personal issue of the army chief and army should not bear the burden. Army chief is at fault by not correcting his date of birth in so many years of service. The only person who will loose in this battle will be Genaral Bikram Singh. It will be injustice if he does not get the promotion he deserves. V K singh is getting so much support because of the respect for the army. Will he get the same level of support had the same situation happened to him if he was a Police officer or IAS officer? This case should be taken only on merit and not let the respect for army override it.

  39. The GOI/MOD shouldn't make this a prestige issue as this concerns the Army's top post and hence the issue needs to be dealt with tactfully. The alleged offer to the Army Chief by the govt. of a diplomatic/gubernatorial post, after his retirement to placate him is shameful to say the least. He is fighting for his honour and surely will not pick up such 'lollies' thrown by the Govt. at him. He has antagonised a few influential retired Generals involved in the Adarsh and Sukna land scams, who have ganged up against him to spite him.

  40. Are we so naive as to believe that the General has suddenly become so obsessive of setting the record of his age straight shortly before retirement, just for the heck of it or for the sake of redeeming his honour? Isn't it clear as a day that the General wants to be in office a wee bit longer if he can help it? If the General is so sanctimonious about the issue of correctness of his age, pray, why did he accept to adopt an inaccurate DOB in writing, when he sensed the prospect of an immediate promotion? And now he wants to change his DOB again in order to extend his tenure on the house! Can’t we see, the General wants to have his cake and eat it too? He wants to enjoy the benefit of both the DOBs to suit his convenience and use each to his advantage when need be. I would call the entire case, plain opportunism, which has nothing to do with redeeming his honour.


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