Friday, February 10, 2012

General V.K.Singh - With Honours

The Supreme Court today disposed of a petition filed by Army Chief V.K.Singh on the matter concerning his age. The govt had decided to go by records which had his year of birth as 1950 while other records had it as 1951. This meant that he would have to retire in May 2012 while 1951 would have meant retiring in 2013. Why the case landed up in the SC is a sorry story which is consistent with the poor handling of various issues the central govt is by now reputed for. On December 30 the govt rejected a second appeal by Gen. Singh to recognise his DOB as 1951 seeking the advice of the Attorney General. It was the second time the govt had sought the advice of the AG on the same issue. This rejection led to the General taking the matter to the SC. Now, that’s the drama that the media couldn’t resist at all. What should have been reported as case of serious nature was turned into a WWE wrestling match of sorts by the media.

Dignity V Ambition was the constant topic of debates in the media. Shameful! General Singh is in the final year of his career, he is over 60, has earned laurels throughout his career. So to even remotely suggest that there was some ingredient of ambition in his stand is an offensive mud-slinging exercise that the media revels in. And, of course, there were those media crooks who even suggested he should resign as soon as the petition was filed. The General acted out of a call of his conscience and the belief that the govt doubted his integrity by rejecting his appeal. So what do the SC observations hold in this case?

First, last week the SC observed that the govt procedure was faulty in rejecting the General’s appeal since it used the same advice (of the AG) that it had already used in a previous appeal. This therefore vitiated the principles of natural justice according to the SC. In the second hearing of the case today the SC recommended the General withdraw his plea since the govt had already agreed and decided to withdraw its controversial order of December 30. The SC also observed that basic documents such as his school leaving certificate used in UPSC records and other records showed his DOB as 1951. SC also observed that it was an issue of service records where the records showing 1950 were proper and that neither his honour nor integrity was in question and that he should have taken steps to rectify the anomaly long back instead of this late state in his career.

The SC maintained it didn’t want to intervene in an issue of service records and did not want dirty linen washed in public. That, in short, summarises the SC approach to the whole case. So it is neither a loss to the General nor a victory for the govt. In a case such as this it is obvious that the people were with the General because they definitely have far more respect for the Army than for the govt. Secondly, General V K Singh is reputed to be an upright officer who has fought corruption in the army. In contrast, the UPA is now seen as a natural friend of corruption. Effectively the SC just said: Your DOB is 1951 but let the service records stay as they are and not reverse what was accepted for over 30 years. That is all!

The implications of the SC observations clearly point to the following:
  1. The govt. simply failed to resolve the issue amicably and let matters get out of hand.
  2. That the grievance and dispute redress systems in the army procedures need to be looked into closely and revamped where necessary.
  3. That in the future even the Army may resort to normal legal processes in the face of govt intransigence.
During the time when the dispute was being negotiated with Gen. Singh the govt could have come out openly and stated in no uncertain circumstances that they hold him in high esteem, respect his integrity, his honour and the 1951 date, but would stand by the records. Instead, the govt was constantly giving the image of a conflict. If the govt has to learn any lessons then these are the ones. The govt was saved by a slim lifeline today. What if the SC had ruled against the govt? That would have completely eroded the govt’s right to even continue with any credibility. The last thing a civilian govt would want is a conflict over such issues with the Army Chief.

The case was turned into a circus by the media as usual. From the time the SC observations were being relayed from the court the usual rants came out: Blow to Army Chief, Setback to Army Chief! Some TV channels even reported Singh's petition was "Dismissed" when technically that was inaccurate since he had withdrawn his petition. It is indeed shameful that such headlines are being used to indicate a loss for the general. It was not a loss. There are those in the media who are now suggesting that General Singh should now resign early. This is a faulty suggestion. It is up to Singh to decide on that. An unresolved disagreement was referred by him to the SC. That’s all. It is not a defeat or loss even in the slightest sense. This was not some property dispute. Finally, the fact is that a huge majority of India does believe Gen. Singh and that his DOB, as claimed by him, is indeed 1951. That’s a victory unavailable to the govt. which has been losing trust every minute. As the saying goes – the law is an Ass, though not all the time. General Singh came through with his reputation intact and with honours.


  1. What the paid journalists want is not known to anyone. If they are delineating the news or what they have in store in their mind to please the corrupt government? He had a rue over his personal credibility over this he approached the apex court against the recalcitrant government. The SC found fault with both the parties and even appreciated the general in question. Then wherefore this nomads overblowing to tarnish his image which the government should allow him to his conscience to be in service or pre retire. The paid journalists are mentally masterbating what they have predetermined to please their bosses and the common are not there to buy their theory as their attributes are known like water in ones palm.

    Moreover, when a National English Daily had stooped down to plagiarise from a vernacular yellow journal our media color is enlightened. It is naive to believe such journalists would do justice to their profession since such a noble profession is used by them as a drunkard using the lamp post for support rather than for its illumination

  2. Very comprehensively covered, even though I may not agree with you about his not resigning now. I feel that having come out and said it was about his personal honour, he has put himself into a corner. In his shoes, I would go.

    That being said, the fact that the govt did not even once come out in public and said that the whole matter was one of procedure more than actual fact speaks of just how badly it has handled this issue. The court in fact has said as much when it mentioned that in his service records the date would be 1950. However, it still does not absolve the govt had turned the whole issue into a major controversy and having vitiated the atmosphere.

    To my mind, the greater damage from this will be that the bureaucrats are going to crow over this and with their proximity to the political class are going to worsen the military - civil service situation to a large extent. Only a strong political leash can prevent this from happening, but unfortunately that is the one thing that we cannot expect to happen.

    DK Cooper

  3. We knew all along that ministers are corrupt and crooks, but never guessed that MoD was being run by chefs and cooks.

  4. I am afraid I just can't accept any of your theories and contentions. How could the Gen sleep over his age-issue right from the date he joined the armed forces only to wake up at the fag end of his career to make an issue. He is down right stupid to have acceded to the MOD's request to agree to 1950 as his DOB at the time of an elevation to a higher rank in the past.

    If he were so sure that his DOB was 1951, he should have stood up early. By the way no Gen won a war all by his intelligence but made the other poor dumb bastard to dies for the success of his country, so goes a saying, reportedly, by Gen Patton.

    Let us not waste our time on such silly issues.

  5. @emmaarcee

    There are all indications that the Gen has time and again sought to correct his DOB. But there are two departments that maintain the service records - MOD and Military has its own records department. While the military department had correct records, MOD failed to correct or rectify or bring in sync its records with that of military. Its just a "babus" mistake.

    The government could have come to a compromise with Gen telling him that they will accept and correct his DOB, in exchange he would have to leave office as per MOD DOB, i am sure Gen would have obliged. Instead Gov went on grand standing and being arrogant and egoistic, went on path of conflict.

    A responsible govt that has any sensitivities would have handled the situation in a lot more dignified way.

    Question is if Gen was wrong or Govt was right. The question is about the whole arrogant and totally pathetic way the gov handled this situation.

    On the other hand SC has taken the middle path and given the best possible judgement. Also, since MOD invalidated the order it passed last sep/dec on SC directive, it would be more victory for Gen rather than Gov.

    1. I fully agree with your views sir. In my humble opinion the present government can not even run a whorehouse. They are utter stupid, arrogant and incompetent. Look at the statements of MMS on politics of coalition, look at what Khursheed and Digvijoy say time and time again. Look at the utterance of Jaiswal regarding Rahul running UP with remote control.

      It is pity we have this fate of being ruled by this mob.

  6. lot of readers and media person are not judge and dnot have first hand record of communication and correspondance between govt functionaries,where does the issue cropped immidiately and why general only approached his senior like jj singh, and depak kapoor whose characters created lot of heart burning,by not giving general his due,under military law,subordinate has to follow order indeed he did but still he called upon his senior to give him justice,actually it was jj singh, who made succession lines for vikram singh by coming to know about mistake commited by teacher at filling the forms for nda academy,which was itself got rectified by submitting matriculation certificate,,more over general borned in army hospital,all of sudden this was made issue by general jj singh and perpetuated by deepak kapoor because vk singh was court marshal officer in sukhna corruption enquiry,he punished vedprakash lt general who was advisor to general, one can understand the circumstantial evidence of grudge of general,bureacrates,politicians against honest general,he was made to accept date of birth shorter because he dnot want to accept any arm dealer commision and stood for honour of common moral ethics of army tradition,no his superior gave him justice, when he became general on his seniority and he approached defence minister
    for simple rectification for which he has right,but defence minister with ag deptt dithered and gave contradictory opinion,general requested to accept his one date of birth,,by matriculation bases,inspite of whole promotion done on 10 may 1952,but govt played very dirty game of demoralising honest general,lot of media report implanted by corrupt bureacrate,political nexuses,against general, the most mafia don chidambaran is still in office but a general who is honest fought corrupt and send them home ,having credible character are being tarnished by media prostitute as service before nation, whole institution of whole india have been made survient to power of mafia money and political manipulation


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