New Delhi:  Army Chief Gen V K Singh on Friday lost his legal battle on the age row in the Supreme Court which said the government decision on his date of birth will apply for his service matters, forcing him to withdraw his petition.

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The Apex Court told Gen Singh that he cannot resile on his commitment that he would abide by the government decision to treat his date of birth as May 10, 1950 and rejected the contention of "prejudice" and "perversity".

During the three-hour long proceedings, the Apex Court applauded his 38 years of service to the nation, saying that it was "proud" of having "meritorious" officer like Gen Singh and wanted to ensure that he continues to work and lead as the Chief of 13-lakh strong army.

The court said that government decision on his age issue will continue to be there and refused to interfere with his service record which maintains his date of birth as May 10, 1950. According to this, he will retire on May 31 this year.

The arguments of Gen Singh, who had approached the Apex Court on January 16 for upholding his "honour and integrity", were a mix of legal points and emotions.
He submitted that if the government was willing to accept his date of birth as May 10,1951, he would resign within 48 hours but it did not cut much ice with the court which said it was "not concerned with determining his age" and his plea was only for recognition of his date of birth.

On its part, Government withdrew its December 30, 2011 order rejecting his statutory complaint, and told the bench it has "full faith and confidence" in the Army Chief.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati told a bench comprising justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale that Government was not questioning Gen Singh's "integrity" or "bonafide".

During the hearing, the bench said “You left it to the authority to take final call and you said you will abide by it. The commitment must be honoured even if it is not your actual date of birth".

"Ultimately they are civilian authority and you have to accept," it further said.

The bench said "no prejudice" was done to Gen Singh and there was "no perversity" or gross error in recognising his date of birth as May 10, 1950.

"The recognition of your date of birth did not suffer from any pervesity. Prima Facie there is no pervesity. In good sense we want to know from you whether you want to withdraw your petition".

"We have examined the entire record. No prejudice was done to you. Government has full faith in you. It is not a question of determining the date of birth. How does it help you".

The Bench said Gen Singh's "writ petition was not for determination of date of birth but for recognition of date of birth".

"This is for recognition of date of birth in service record. Unless it is perverse and grossly erroneous, there is no scope of entertaining the petition by this court," the bench said.

Gen Singh's counsel Puneet Bali later told reporters that it was a victory for both side a the matter has been resolved "gracefully and amicably". He said Army Chief's petition was not for extension of service but a matter of "honour and integrity".

Before taking a break of 10 minutes, the Bench said Gen Singh has options, either he withdraws the petition or the court would pass the order after hearing him.

It made it very clear that in any case the court's order should not come in the way of his commitment to the nation as he has been serving for 38 years.
"Wise people are those who move with the winds," the bench observed.