Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a matter of honour notmoney

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
General Vijay Kumar Singh is an officer and a gentleman. He is Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army and commands the third largest army in the world. Professionally speaking, he is sound and knows his p’s and q’s better than any other experienced officer on both sides of the Suez. Thus he has made a name for himself, his Service and his motherland. Quite a few officers senior to him played chess to see if there could be formation of a Chakravyuh for this Abhimanyu of modern age to derail his Rath and prevent his becoming the Sar Senapati of the Indian Army. Vijay Kumar Singh proved to the Kauravas that Abhimanyu of today was more clever than they thought him to be.
Some senior army officers located in the South Block of the Central Secretariat in the national capital came to know that old VK Singh had two recorded dates of birth. It might have been a rare privilege for the Caliph of Baghdad to enjoy and the Sultan of Istanbul to give a go bye but for old VK it was a source of super propaganda that put him on the pedestal. A great believer in the pristine beauty of Nature, VK enjoyed the Sun light and kept away from limelight until it was thrust upon him. The conspiratorial gang of the army brass discovered and broadcast gleefully that the short statured high profile infantry officer rated as Chief material by all ranks had two dates of birth recorded in his service profile. The opponents who came across this chance discovery celebrated Diwali in the hope of having the high profile VK cut to size.
VK Singh, however, had another plan based on the TRUTH that would steal the thunder from the Kaurava camp and would put additional wind in own sails. VK went through all the concerned files and pin pointed where the mistake lay. The High School certificate from the Rajasthan Educational Board had mentioned the correct date of birth, viz May10, 1951. Other related documents also made a mention of the age correctly. However, when a master of the Birla School, Pilani filled VK’s application for the entrance examination to the NDA, he, relying on his memory filled the date of birth as May 10,1950. This was an honest mistake and all concerned knew that it would be corrected in due course of time. Unfortunately, that was not to be till today. As VK’s luck would have it, all Service records, all Annual Confidential Reports and all promotion papers mention the correct date of birth, namely may 10, 1951.
VK Singh made sincere efforts to have his date of birth entered wrongly in the NDA entrance examination form changed to the correct one. Surprisingly his every attempt at correction was thwarted by the Military Secretary’s branch, Army Headquarters on the plea that it would upset declaration of results of promotion boards. At a particular moment VK’s application to Army Headquarters for suitable correction was turned down and he was ordered through a signal to accept the wrong date as the correct one or alternatively face disciplinary action. VK was given just 3 hours to make up his mind and communicate to the MS branch, Army Headquarters. VK did that willy-nilly and accepted the wrong date of birth as the correct one under a threat of initiation of disciplinary action by Army headquarters against him. Obviously, that threat or coercion prevented VK from exercising his free will. Going by law of the land, the then Chief of the Army Staff may be prosecuted for preventing a brother officer and his junior from exercising his free choice and consequently the TRUTH was negated and converted into falsehood. VK cannot be hauled up for an action or omission that happened under duress.
General VK Singh had knocked at every door at the Army Headquarters and the Ministryof Defence but none opened. Justice was denied to the serving Chief of the Army Staff. His honour was sullied as a vicious propaganda was carried on to paint him in bad light as a votary of falsehood. It was said that the Chief does not go to a court of law. It was said that he should resign in the first instance and then file a petition. An officer who is likely to become the Army Chief and has some clout in the government because of his religion and ethnic background has all along been in the forefront leading charge of the light brigade against the big guns of the army of General VK Singh. General VK Singh wishes to present his clean image to the Army and the Nation so that the common man knows who the culprit is. Once the people of India make up their minds about who the villain of the Piece is, adjudicating sundrey residual issues may be just peanuts.
The Prime Minister is now hinting at an administrative action so that conrinuity of command is maintained Does it mean that the Prime Minister is contemplating dismissal of General VK Singh so that the post of the Chief falls vacant and a favourite of his is duly installed . it would be very unfortunate if the Prime Minister initiates and executes dismissal from service of Chief of the Army Staff. It will lower the morale of the corps of officers and Jawans at a time when the nation is surrounded by deadly enemies from all sides. Such an action will reflect the mental and physical bankruptcy and utter lack of leadership in government of India.
Indeed the main ball to be played is in the court of the Apex Court. The immediate issue is : to Admit or to not admit” the petition of General VK Singh. If the petition is admitted, a date for arguments and final disposal will be fixed. The earlier the better, preferably before may 10, 2012 so that general VK Singh reaps the harvest of what he has sown.
Ministry of Defence, Govt of India is harping on the point that the petitioner, General VK Singh has accepted May 10, 1050 as his date of birth and, therefore, Estoppel prohibits him from going back on his own admission. The important point to be considered here is: was General VK Singh coerced to state what was not true by the govt of India? If so, the petitioner is not checked by Estoppel from opening the case afresh to arrive at the truth. Further, how can an individual or the govt change the date of birth of an officer or a Jawan, irrespective of the willingness of an individual or an organisation to do so. The date of birth of an individual recorded in the High School certificate is final and irrevocable.
Well ! The cat will be out of the bag soon when the Supreme Court of India takes up the petition for preliminary hearing to decide whether to admit it or not to admit it. The question-answer session and the body language of all concerned will give the Counsels, the Onlookers and the Petitioner, not forgetting the Govt of India, an inkling into the future.
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