Government, army chief row sets unhealthy precedent: minister

New Delhi : The legal battle between Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh and the government over his age sets an “unhealthy precedent”, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said here Wednesday.

“It is not a healthy precedent either for the ministry or the armed forces. It is not a matter for public debate and like I said, it’s an unhealthy precedent,” Raju told reporters.

Singh, citing birth records, says he was born in 1951 and is not due to retire until March 2013. But records at the defence ministry show he was born in 1950, which means that Singh, who became army chief in March 2010, is due to retire May 31.

The army chief moved the Supreme Court Monday after the ministry in December rejected his statutory complaint requesting the change of his year of birth in official records to 1951 from 1950. A day later, the defence ministry filed a caveat in the apex court, urging it to not pass any order on the general’s petition before hearing the government.

The Supreme Court may refer the case to the Armed Forces Tribunal or to a lower court.

The row has pitted the senior-most officer of the 1.13-million-strong army, the world’s second largest, against the government, a first in independent India.

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