Gen Bikram Singh is next Army Chief

New Delhi: The suspense over the next Army Chief came to an end with the Government announcing Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the successor to Gen V K Singh, who recently lost his battle over the age issue.

59-year-old Lt Gen Singh, the Eastern Army Commander, will head the 13-lakh strong force and have a tenure of just over two years till August 2014 from May 31.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh, the second Sikh to lead the Indian Army after Gen J J Singh, has served in various key positions including as the Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps during the height of militancy in the valley.

"Lt Gen Singh has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of 31 May 2012," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

"He will succeed the present COAS Gen V K Singh, who retires from the service on May 31," he added.

As per the normal practice, the appointment of Chiefs of Defence Services is announced 60 days in advance but in this case, the government made the announcement 90 days in advance.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh was the seniormost among the present Army Commanders but his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff had got caught in a suspense as Gen V K Singh was fighting out his date of birth battle with government that would have given him tenure till April next year.

Had Gen V K Singh`s contention that he was born on May 10,1951 and not a year earlier been accepted, Lt Gen Bikram Singh`s chance to head the Army would have been scuttled. In that situation, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik would have become the Chief. .

Gen V K Singh, who had two dates of birth in official records, had dragged the government to the Supreme Court, contending that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not a year earlier.

Gen V K Singh lost the legal battle on his date of birth on February 10 when the top court held that he had been promoted all through on the basis of May 10,1950 as date of birth and could not "resile" now on his commitment.

He had approached the apex court on January 16 for upholding his "honour and integrity" but was forced to withdraw his petition after he was told by the court that 1950 as his year of birth would apply for service matters.

In a recent interview, the Army Chief has said the Supreme Court had "side-stepped" his age issue but ruled out his resignation.

Along with Gen Bikram Singh, Lt Gen Parnaik was also in the panel of officers for succeeding Gen V K Singh as was Vice Chief Lt Gen Shri Krishna Singh.

There had been questions over Lt Gen Bikram Singh in connection with an alleged fake encounter in Kashmir but the government went ahead to appoint him as the Army Chief.