New Delhi: The raging controversy over Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh’s age has reached the doors of the two former judges of the Supreme Court. The Army has invoked ‘national interest’ and ‘morale of the Army’ as reasons for seeking their opinions.

In an exclusive conversation with Dainik Jagran, JS Verma said that the case is very important since it is concerned with national interest and morale of the Army; hence he has given his opinion.

Both Justice JS Verma and Justice GB Patnaik have opined that May 10, 1951 should be considered as Gen Singh's date of birth instead of May 10, 1950.

However, Army sources refused to divulge any details and said that no such step has been taken.

Verma in his legal advice has also mentioned that at a time when the country is facing rampant corruption the image of the person who is sitting at the highest level in Army becomes crucial.

Earlier, the Law Ministry and Attorney General have adopted different views and remained divided over the General’s age.
Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, whose view was sought by Army earlier this month, has opined in favour of maintaining May 10, 1950 as General V K Singh's date of birth while, the Law Ministry has supported May 10 1951 as Gen Singh's date of birth.

It is noteworthy that the Army has been maintaining two different date of births in its records for General Singh. The Adjutant General's (AG) branch, the official record keeper for purposes of salary and pension, has May 10, 1951 as the official date of birth while the Military Secretary's branch, in charge of promotions and postings, has recorded it as May 10, 1950.

Even, Gen Singh's matriculation certificate has May 10, 1951 as the date of birth but the UPSC application form filled for entry into the Army has May 10, 1950 as the date of birth.

Succession threat looms

The row over Army Chief’s age also threatens the succession line. If the birth year of Singh is considered to be 1950 then head of Eastern Army Command Lt General Vikram Singh would become the next Army Chief and if the birth year is considered to be 1951 then Northern Army Commander Lt General K T Parnaik would succeed Singh.