NEW DELHI (Agencies) - The government on Saturday named Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Indian army chief, Indian media reported. Bikram Singh will head the 1.3-million strong Indian army succeeding General Vijay Kumar Singh, who retires from service on May 31, 2012. The Defence Ministry announced the army chief-designate on Saturday almost three months ahead of schedule as against the normal practice of 60 days.

The move could be seen to remove uncertainty following a rash of speculative reports that Gen Singh could put in his papers early which could alter succession plan.

It came a day after the current army chief told an English news weekly that he was not going to resign.

A section of media speculated that Gen VK Singh would resign after the Supreme Court disposed of his petition last month on the year of birth controversy.

Gen Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on March 31, 1972 and during the last four decades, served in a variety of Command and Staff appointments. Besides having commanded a Corps in the Northern Command, he has served as Deputy Force Commander of multi-nation UN Peace Keeping Mission in Congo. He had also served as UN Observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during early 1990s.

Gen Bikram is also a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command Course at MHOW and the US Army War College, Pennsylvania, USA.

Earlier, on Feb 10, the Supreme Court had given the decision that current Army Chief General VK Singh’s date of birth in records need not to be changed. He will have to retire from his post on the due date of May 31 this year.