Dehradun : There is apparently more than what meets the eye in the ministry of defence not accepting 10 May 1951 as the date of birth as claimed by Gen V K Singh in lieu of 10 May 1950, forcing the chief of army staff to knock the doors of the apex court.
For there is a precedent in which the Military Secretaryâ€™s (MS) branch of the ministry of defence, under almost identical circumstances accepted, the claimed date of birth in the case of Col Ramesh Chander Joshi (IC-16142) of Engineers corp of the Indian Army.
On 13 Sep 1996 the Military Secretaryâ€™s branch vide its letter no 30004/Sep 96/Tech/MS Retirement addressed to Headquarters Western Command with copies to concerned branches stated that Col Joshi would be retiring from army service on 30 Sep 1996 after attaining the age of superannuation.
Immediately, on 16 Sep, Col Joshiâ€™s gave an application regarding discrepancy in his date of birth, which was forwarded by the Engineer-in-Chiefâ€™s branch to MS 8, MS 7, MS 12 and Adjutant Generalâ€™s (AGâ€™s) branch of the ministry of defence.
With just 10 days left for his retirement, and fearing that the paperwork could take too much time, going beyond his date of superannuation, which would force him to retire, Col Joshi also sent a representation directly to Gen S Roy Chowdhury, who was then chief of the army staff, on 20 Sep 1996.
It is another issue he got a severe note of reprimand for having approached the chief of army staff directly, despite the fact that an application of his had also been sent through proper channel.
Exactly on the date of his retirement, that is 30 Sep 1996 an army message was sent by INDARMY (MS RETIREMENT) to WESTCOM, CDA (O) Pune and CDA (P) Allahabad saying, â€œthis HQ letter No 30004/Sep/96/Tech/MS Retirement of 13 Sep 1996 regarding retirement of IC 16142 Col Ramesh Chander Joshi Engrs of E-in-câ€™s Branch Army Hq wef from 30 Sep 96 is hereby cancelled. The claimed date of birth as 25 Nov 45 has been accepted by Ministry of Defence (MOD). Officer will continue in service till further orders.â€ Information was also sent to various branches and the concerned officer.
Talking to Hill Post at his ancestral house here in Ballupur area of Dehradun, Col Joshi said that he joined the 25th course of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla in Jan 1961 (NDA no 4059). His father then Capt H S Joshi, had taken up the change of his date of birth while he was a cadet at the NDA.
â€œThe discrepancy in the date of birth was first noticed while filling the form for appearing for Senior Cambridge. My father discovered that the date of birth as recorded in school, 22 Sep 1944, did not tally with his service records, where it was 25 Nov 1945. He brought it to the notice of the Principal of the school. Meanwhile the form of the UPSC for appearing in the 25th course of NDA had been submitted with the date of birth as 22 Sep 44â€, Col Joshi said.
However, he went on to add that after protracted correspondence, the correct date of birth was accepted by the school authorities and the same was reflected in the Senior Cambridge certificate and also transfer certificate issued by the school.
â€œMy father then applied to NDA vide his letter no 1646/P/106R dated 30 Mar 1962 to correct the date of birth. My father was intimated by the then Commandant NDA, vide his letter no 010237/100/G9cdt) Trg dated 23 Feb 1963, that the date of birth as recorded in my senior Cambridge certificate had been accepted by the UPSC and therefore by the Academyâ€, he claimed.
Col Joshi recalled that it was on 12 Sep 96 evening that he received a telephone message from MS-12 that there was discrepancy in his date of birth and that he should discuss the same with AMS-7A branch of ministry of defence.
â€œAccordingly, I went to MS-7A on 13 Sep 96, where I learnt that my date of birth was still being shown as 22 Sep 1944 though there was an unsigned copy of Adjutant Generalâ€™s branch letter no 94865/Org6(sp) (a) dated 30Jan/12 Feb 1963 addressed to NDA stating that the change of date of birth to 25 Nov 45 had been acceptedâ€, he pointed out.
Asserting that alls well that ends well, he said that in his case the MS branch had reacted within 15 days to the application that he had forwarded through proper channel for accepting his date of birth as 25 Nov 1945, against the 22 Sep 1944, which is about an year and two months later and his date of retirement was fixed as per his changed date of birth.
â€œIf it has happened in my case why not in the case of Gen V K Singhâ€, he wondered.
A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand).
Jagdish had worked with India’s leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards
Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.