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Age row: Supreme Court to hear Army chiefs case today

It is the second round of the legal battle between the Army chief and the government on the controversy over his age today. The first round was won by General VK Singh on February 3. Today, the Supreme Court will resume hearing his case against the government.  The General says he was born on May 10, 1951; the government says it has to go by documents that list his date of birth as May 10, 1950. General Singh's records within the Army show both dates.

On the last hearing on February 3, the Supreme Court observed that the government had violated "the principles of natural justice" in the manner that it rejected the General's appeal in December. The judges said they were not commenting on whether the government's decision was correct; they objected to the way in which that decision had been reached.  The court said the government had used the opinion of the same legal officer- Attorney General GE Vahanvati - to twice rule against the General.   The judges said that in July last year, the Defence Ministry consulted the Attorney General about General Singh's claim. Mr Vahanvati opined against the Army chief. When General Singh filed a statutory complaint against that decision, the Attorney General was again part of the process of rejecting the complaint. The court has questioned how the same legal officer's advice was used again when deciding on the General's appeal in December.

The court had also told the government to either withdraw that decision taken on December 30, or have it officially over-ruled by the court. However, sources in the Ministry of Defense have told NDTV that the government has ruled out any compromise with the General.  The government has reportedly been advised by Defence Minister AK Antony and others that its legal case is strong. The Prime Minister has been briefed twice by senior officials in the Ministry of Defence. Sources say Mr Antony is very upset by the General's decision to battle the government in court over his age.

General Singh, who has become the first serving Army chief to take the government to court, says that several crucial documents establish that he tried at different points in his career to have his records amended to reflect the correct date of birth, but was turned down. The government counters that he accepted several key promotions, including the one that gave him the top job in the Army, on the basis of his seniority as established by records that show he was born in 1950.

Keywords- Age row: Supreme Court to hear Army chiefs case today



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