New Delhi: Rejecting the statutory complaint made by Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh to reconcile his date of birth controversy, the Union Ministry of Defence has initiated the process of selecting the next Army Chief. All set to settle the date of birth row, the Defence Ministry has started scanning the portfolios of top defence brass.

According to the sources, there are three names in the race to succeed Singh. It includes Lieutenant General Vikram Singh, Army’s Vice Chief Lt. General SK Singh and Northern Command Chief KT Parnaik.

However, Western Command Chief Lt General Shankar Rajan Gosh has not been included in the list. Sources say, the General will retire this year on May 31 along with General VK Singh.

Interestingly, the process to select the new Army chief was underway when the Defence Ministry rejected the statutory complaint filed by Singh to reconcile his date of birth row. If the sources are to be believed, on December 30 last year the Ministry rejected the complaint but commenced with the process of selecting the new chief by the second week of December.

It needs to be mentioned that, different date of births are recorded in two separate documents submitted by General VK Singh.  In the Military Secretary Branch, May 10, 1950 has been mentioned while in Adjutant General Branch May 10, 1951 has been stated. The Defence Ministry has taken 10 May 1950 as his birth date, thus making it incumbent upon him to retire this May.

Generally, once a government takes such a decision, an Army chief has to accept it. It is the supremacy of the civilian government that is at stake here.

Importantly, Eastern Command Chief General Vikram Singh is the senior-most officer among the three in race for the post and is on the top of the next Army chief list. On the other hand, Parnaik, if elected, will have the longest tenure as Army chief.

JPN/Bureau