Gen Singh withdraws age plea after adverse SC ruling

General Vijay Kumar SinghGeneral Vijay Kumar Singh, commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, will have to retire at the end of May as his challenge on the date of his birth failed before the Supreme Court today.

Gen Singh withdrew his petition seeking that his birth date be treated as 10 May 1951 rather than a year earlier. The government has insisted that it has gone by Army records that show the general was born in 1950.

Before the 2:00 pm lunch break, the bench of Justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale had clearly indicated that it would quash the petition if it was not withdrawn.

The court noted in an over two-hour hearing before a packed courtroom that the government has not shown lack of faith in Gen Singh; and it wants to ensure that he continues to work as he has been doing.

The bench held that no prejudice was exercised against Gen Singh and the government decision on his date of birth would remain. In view of this, Gen Singh will have to retire on 31 May this year.

There is unlikely to be a further challenge, given the stature of Gen Singh as Army chief. His leading lawyer Puneet Bali said after the verdict that attorney general G E Vahanvati's statement that the government had not questioned the integrity of Gen Singh was enough to satisfy them.