The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday the 10th Feb’2012 refused to entertain a petition from Army Chief General V.K.Singh seeking alteration of his date of birth from 10th May 1950 to 10th May 1951 (so that he could continue in the army for another year as army chief). He is to retire from Army on 31st May this year on the basis of his birth day as 10th May 1950.
On the contrary had the court accepted the plea of General Singh’s plea of birthday correction, the general could have continued for another year as head of the Army, making the Government’s line of succession plan go haywire.
After about four hours of argument, the bench comprising of Justice R M Lodha and Justice H L Gokhale remarked, “In a matter like this which is of vital importance to the nation, if you (General Singh) are raising a service matter and age issue, then go before the Armed Forces Tribunal and stand in the witness box to substantiate your claim. You did not go to court when civilian authority decided that 1950 was the year of your birth and you became the Army Chief (on the basis of that year of birth and consequential seniority) and then came to the court.”
The court further observed that having given that commitment (on accepting 1950 as year of birth), it does not befit a meritorious officer like General Singh to take such a stand at the fag end of his carrier.
Clearly it was a major lapse on the part of Gen. Singh to approach SC on this age issue that made him face the plain constitutional truth that armed forces must submit to the Supremacy of civilian authority.