GAURAV C SAWANT
NEW DELHI, JAN 16
Document after document in the Chief of the Army Staff General Vijay Kumar Singh’s 66 page petition and 150 page annexure in the Supreme Court give evidence of his ``correct’’ date of birth 10 May 1951.
The best legal minds in the army and the country have launched the final assault on the Government of India and the Ministry of Defence for quashing his statutory complaint to `reconcile’ the discrepancy in his age.
From his matriculation certificate issued by the Rajasthan Board to his father Major Jagat Singh’s service records, letter written by Officer Commanding, 14th Battalion of Rajput Regiment, letters written by DIG CID, query made by UPSC at the time of joining NDA, IMA, his commissioning identity card, awards, citations and promotion Boards, the army chief has attached documents to show how he has been wronged by both the Army Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence.
The Chief in his petition says`` respondent (Ministry of Defence) without going into the factual aspect as well as the law settled by this Hon’ble Court has dismissed the Statutory Complaint filed by the petitioner under section 27 of the Army Act. While dismissing the complaint, the respondent failed to appreciate that Matriculation Certificate and Date of Birth mentioned in the Service Records can only be the authentic proof of Date of Birth.’’
To strengthen his case, he has also annexed the opinion of former Chief Justice of India, JS Varma, taken by the Adjutant General’s Branch. The petition says:
``That it is also important to mention that the AG Branch also sought the opinion of Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India, who also concluded that the Petitioner’s date of birth is 10.05.1951 and all records need to harmonise accordingly.’’
Giving a brief history of the issue, the petition says: ``since there was no certificate regarding DOB available for submitting with the UPSC application form including the class X certificate from the Rajasthan Secondary Education Board, a certificate from Officer Commanding, 14 Rajput Regiment dated 03.08.1965, certifying the date of birth of petitioner as 10.05.1951 as per the official records of his father, Shri Jagat Singh who was Major in the Army, was obtained and submitted to UPSC just before the written examinations.’’
The Army chief is also relying on CID investigation done way back in 1966 which show his ``correct’’ DoB as May 10 1951. In his petition he says:
``candidates seeking commission in the armed forces are required to undergo verification and are required to fill up Form SP-103 for this purpose, which has to be attested by the DIG of Police, C.I.D. of the respective States. The form for verification was filled by petitioner on 09.05.1966 and duly verified by the D.I.G., C.I.D., I.B., Rajasthan and the D.I.G., C.I.D., I.B., Punjab on 22nd June, 1966. The verification also reflects petitioner’s date of birth as 10th May 1951.’’
The Chief insists he was under the impression his correct DoB had been recorded as his I-Card at the time of commissioning showed so.
He writes: ``it is relevant to point out here that every cadet before his commissioning to the Army from the IMA receives an identity card which is carried on for life by every officer. The identity card as issued to petitioner reflects his date of birth as 10th May 1951. The date of birth in the identity card is cross-checked from relevant document and there exists an elaborate procedure for this. On commissioning of an officer on joining the unit, a Record of service is also prepared and counter-signed by his commanding officer. Petitioner was commissioned in the Indian army on 14th June 1970 in Infantry in 2nd Battalion of the Rajput Regiment and his record of service at the time of his commission in 1970 also has the date of birth as 10 May, 1951. ‘’
The Chief has also hinted at his seniors – naming then COAS General Deepak Kapoor having let him down.
``That since the then Chief of Army Staff had personally assured him that he will resolve the issue regarding petitioner’s date of birth, but when nothing had been done for almost three months thereafter, the petitioner vide letter dated 1st July 2008 addressed to the then Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor requested for justice to be done in his case. Petitioner also enquired as to the constraints mentioned by the MS Branch which compelled them to maintain DOB as 10th May 1950 despite petitioner’s having submitted the SSC Certificate in 1971 and mentioning his date of birth as 10th May 1951 in all his confidential reports.’’
The Chief in his petition says it is almost unbelievable that the government would get wrong advise from the Attorney General.
``It also seems almost unbelievable that the Attorney General would give precedence to the inadvertent mistake of wrongly writing the date of birth over the prescribed procedure such as preparation of IAFZ-2041 and therefore, the petitioner doubts as to whether a correct query was asked from the Ld. Attorney General.’’