Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

National Commission for Ex-Servicemen (More appropriately NATIONAL VETERANS’ COMMISSION) may soon become a reality

This blogger was always in favour of a statutory body dealing with the grievances of serving and retired members of the uniformed forces.

A proposal for enactment of a "Servicemembers’ Redressal of Grievances Act" imposing a duty on civil public authorities to respond / act in a time-bound manner on grievances of members of the military drafted by this blogger was forwarded to the govt by the Army and is currently pending. Full details of the features of the Act alongwith a presentation and draft is available on this blog at http://indianmilitarybenefits.blogspot.com/2008/05/proposed-servicemembers-redressal-of.html

Various Parliamentary Committees had also favoured the formation of a Commission for the welfare of Ex-Servicemen, an outline paper for which was presented by this blogger at an earlier occasion. Now it is learnt that the govt is moving in the direction of creating a National Ex-Servicemen Commission (National Veterans’ Commission would be more appropriate).
A press story on the same is available here (Thanks to 'The Tribune).

The outline draft submitted by this blogger is presented below :-

Rough outline of the proposed National Veterans’ Commission

(Note : The below mentioned is just a proposal as of now)

1. Proposal :- It is proposed to constitute a National Veterans’ Commission (for the ease of use – ‘NVC’) having its seat at Delhi.

2. Jurisdiction :- The NVC shall have jurisdiction on the entire country over problems and grievances of veterans of the three services. The Commission shall have the power of dealing with a complaint suo-moto or through a petition presented before it, by any victim or anyone on behalf of such a victim, relating to the violation of human rights of a veteran or negligence in looking into the grievance of a veteran by any public authority. The Act shall have a provision that each public authority in India would be required to look into and act upon a grievance of a veteran within a period of 30 days from the date such grievance is forwarded to that particular public authority.

3. The definition of ‘Veteran’ :- The definition of ‘veteran’ need not be configured or linked with the existing definition of ‘ex-serviceman’. We need to give a wider canvas to the definition of ‘Veteran’. The term ‘Veteran’ shall include any person being a citizen of India who has served in any of the Armed Forces of the Union in any rank for a period of six months or more in total and has been discharged due to any reason other than misconduct, dismissal or removal.

4. Appointment of Chairperson and Members :- It is proposed that the NVC may be a three member body with a Chairperson and two members. The Chairperson may be a retired judge of the Supreme Court and the members may consist of retired High Court judges or retired officers of the rank of Lt General or equivalent from other services. The Chairperson and members shall serve for a period of 5 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

5. Powers of the Commission :- The NVC shall have the power to direct any public authority in India to remove the grievance of a veteran or to take steps for containing any human rights violation relating to a Veteran.

6. Enforcement of Orders :- The orders passed by the Commission shall be judicial orders for the proposes of their implementation and execution.

7. Seat of the Commission :- The Commission shall have its seat at New Delhi but the Chairperson may direct members of the Commission to hold circuit benches anywhere in India if the need arises.

8. Power to hold Enquiry :- The Commission while passing final orders under the Act may hold an enquiry into issues relating to grievances of Veterans and while holding such enquiries, the Commission shall have the power of summoning and examining witnesses, enforcing their attendance, examining documents etc as vested in a Civil Court while trying a Civil Suit.

9. Receiving Complaints and Petitions :- The NVC may receive a Complaint or a Petition from any Veteran being a citizen of India (or anyone on his or her behalf) in any manner whether written, electronic or oral. There shall not be a prescription of any formal format of a Complaint before the NVC.

10. Proceedings before NVC :- Just like Information Commissions, presence of the Complainant / Petitioner before the NVC would not be mandatory.

11. Time Limit for action :- The NVC shall decide each case before it within a period of 60 days from institution, further extendable to 120 days for reasons recorded in writing.

12. Punishment :- Each order passed by the NVC would be a judicial order. The NVC would have the power to impose a fine of Rs 250 per day of delay on action of a grievance of a Veteran (subject to a maximum of Rs 50,000) or from day an order is passed by the NVC.

Maj Navdeep Singh
Advocate, Punjab & Haryana High Court
House No 1063, Sector 2, Panchkula – 134 112, Haryana
navdeepsingh.india@gmail.com Phone: 093161-32817

Disclose ACRs and Overall profile to retired officer : Central Info Commission

The CIC had earlier in many decisions held that ACRs need not be disclosed to RTI Applicants.

However, in a major and important decision, it has been held by the CIC in an appeal by a retired Colonel, that such information can be disemminated to retired officers since "the only effect of such disclosure could be to either confirm or rectify a promotion made in the case of an error or oversight and, therefore, at best lead to readjustment of pension benefits to applicant."

The entire decision (Col Goswami Vs Directorate of Military Intelligence) is available here on the CIC website

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

System of calculation of DA to change for better ?

But still, as I always say, take it with a pinch of salt.
The Sixth Pay Commission award for government officials is likely to be sweetened with an upward revision in the dearness allowance (DA) entitlement. The committee of secretaries (CoS) looking into the recommendations made by the Sixth Pay Commission has suggested a change in the DA calculations. This could result in additional benefit of Rs 300-3,000 a month to a government employee, depending on her level. The CoS, headed by Cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar, is giving finishing touches to the report that is expected to be submitted soon. The report would then go to the Cabinet for approval. Government sources said the change has been suggested in the wake of an across-the-board protest by government employees against the way DA allowance was fixed. The Fifth Pay Commission had recommended that the 50% DA payable in April 2004 be merged with basic pay. The dearness pay was to be counted as basic pay for all practical purposes, including for retirement benefit. Thus, logically, as on January 1, 2006, the recommended date of Sixth Pay Commission award, the 24% DA payable should have been on a salary that included the 50% DA that was merged with basic pay from April 2004. In its calculation, however, instead of compounding the two DA components — 50% as on April 1, 2004 and 24% as on January 1, 2006 — the commission added them, yielding a figure of 74% composite DA. Consequently, while shifting to the concept of grade pay, the pay commission fixed the base salary as on January 1, 2006, at the basic pay drawn along with dearness allowance at the rate of 74%, and rounded it off to next multiple of 10. The anomaly resulted in a loss of roughly 7% to government employees. To put it simply, if an employee had a basic salary of Rs 100 on April 1, 2004, according to the Fifth Pay Commission calculation, he would have a total salary of Rs 150 (including 50% DA). A 24% DA on that would increase his salary to Rs 186 — and not Rs 174 on January 1, 2006, used as the base for calculating Sixth Pay Commission award. The committee of secretaries is understood to have proposed that the anomaly be corrected and the DA be fixed at 86% and not 74%. So, in case of a government employee in the Rs 2,550 pre-revised payscale, the revised pay in running pay band would become Rs 4,743 (increase of 86%) against Rs 4,440 (74% increase), a gain of over Rs 300. At the director level, in the payscale of Rs 18,300, the difference because of the change would be over Rs 2,000 a month

Click here to see this article (With thanks to Economic Times)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More support for Brig Chandpuri - Coverage of defamation suit by national and international media

The Controversy
Earlier this year, a claim was made by some Air Force officers that no battle was fought by the Army at Laungewala and it was merely rehearsed on sand-model to fool the nation. They further went on to say that not even a single bullet was fired in the Area. The said utterings and that too 37 years after the war seemed a little off the mark, more so since lives were lost in the sector on that night and casting aspersions on the brave men who bore the brunt seemed nothing but hogwash. Brig Chandpuri is now fighting another battle, this time in Court and he has sued for defamation against those responsible for tarnishing his image. The support from the defence community and media this time has been overwhelming but it is unfortunate that this kind of show of strength was missing when the allegations first appeared in newspapers. Even the govt chose not to make an official statement leaving the old gallant soldier alone to fight his own battle.

Laungewala on Bharat Rakshak : Read about the basics of the battle here
Laungewala on Wikipedia : Click here to learn more on the Battle

Now for extracts of some emails floating around on the subject


“I read the bit about Brig Chandpuri taking the Air marshal and a maj gen(?) to court for libel.The Battle of Longewala was covered in the Defence Watch of April 2008based on the Pakistan version of the battle. This was in response to the baseless allegations made by the two offrs.”

“We were together in 15 Corps. I was SO1 (Sigs). My family quarters used to be above the Officers mess. He was single in HQ Mess. I admired his conduct and simplicity. I found him the most respectable officers in the Corps and always willing to extend any help. I feel happy recollecting my association with him.”

“i would like to state that we were all soldiers irrespective of the colour of uniform we wore. if a wrong had been done to chandpuri it must be corrected. I pray for redemption of his military honour at the earliest.”

“I wish Brig Chandpuri all success in his efforts.He will stand vindicated by Gods grace and support of his well wishers.”

“I too admire Brig Chandpuri the great hero. All such are required to be taught a lesson. Filing a suit for Rs one adds another feather to his greatness”

"Brig (Retd) KS Chandpuri is 100% correct here.Then Wg Cdr MS Bawa was the Station Commander of our FBSUat Jaisalmer at that time. He was not in the detachment of Hunterswhich came from Jodhpur. This dett flew the non-stop sorties fromthe Jaisalmer base for the battle of Longewal which took placeon 05-06 Dec 1971. Two of the pilots who flew in that epic battleare/ were personally known to me. Air Mshl (Retd) Minhi Bawawas my AOC a decade later.The initial brunt was actually faced by just about 120 soldiers ofthe "A" company of the 23rd Punjab Regiment, led by then MajorKS Chandpuri. They held the Brigade strength of enemy attackuntil the Hunters came in. The rest of the Punjab battalion wasthen located at Sadhewala. This is the truth, as known to me."

"In a way I am glad that the Brig has filed for damages. Most such controversies are generated by the guys who have gone thru the system contributing little and hardly checked for their incompetence. The resulting inflated ego is not deflated even after retirement.In the case of the IAF, the problem is particularly acute when they realise that aside from the glamour of flying, their operational contribution would be meaningful only in support roles most of the time."

Press / Media / Web Coverage
On the other hand, there has also been a flow of support for Brig Chandpuri and his men of Laungewala fame who bravely bore the brunt of enemy onslaught in '71. Some links pertaining to web and media coverage on the issue are provided below :-

Coverage on Report My Signal

India Today

Gulf Times

Experience of the battle

The Indian


Mumbai Mirror


America On Line

Headlines India

The Tribune, Chandigarh

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guest Post : Battle of Laungewala (Longewala) - latest developments

An Email received from Brig Chander Bhanot is reproduced below as a guest post :
(The views expressed are his own)


We all know what happened in the Laungewala area during the '71 war.
And I'm not talking of the movie 'Border' here.

My Battalion was close to where Brig KS Chandpuri (then Maj) was, and he and his men took the term 'holding the fort' to new heights. With sheer grit and determination, this company of Punjab Regt held on and being in the area, we knew it was no easy task.

The controversy emerged after the release of 'Border' where Sunny Deol played the role of Chandpuri. Certain people started comparing reel with real life. Chandpuri never claimed the movie to be a true depiction of what actually happened, in fact if I remember correctly, the movie contained a disclaimer that it was inspired by the events at Laugewala and was not a true blow by blow account. Of course there had to be exaggeration of facts if the movie was to become a hit.

That we all know that in the movie the Army had a centre stage and this rankled certain Air Force and Air OP officers but the mudslinging campaign against the gallant men of 23 PUNJAB in media orgs recently was uncalled for. They in 2008 called the battle a 'fake' and claimed that not even a single round was fired in Laungewala. Nothing could have been more untrue and they have done disservice to the lives lost in the area buckling down to the greed of sensationalism. Many men were lost in Laungewala and here were people saying that there was no evidence of fire in the area ! The least they could have done was consult people who had served in the region during those times. I met Brig CHandpuri - he may not remember me, but I've never seen a war hero more humble in my life. The man is a grounded person and son of the soil and it pained me and the defence community a great deal to see his humiliation in the media whereas he maintained a dignified silence. It was also unfortunate that the Army did not come to his rescue by issuing any official media statement.

But now, when I opened my paper this morning, I felt very happy and relieved. The humble farmer-soldier has decided to fight a war again after 37 years. He has filed a case in a Chandigarh Court for redeeming his honour and you know how much he has sought as damages – Rupee 1/-. A great man and a great step. May the lord be with him and the souls that were lost that night in Laungewala.

Brig Chander Bhanot
The author can be reached on chanderbhanot@gmail.com

Reproduction of Enclosure of Brig Bhanot's guest post :

Click here for the report in 'The Tribune'

The Tribune :

Brigadier sues Air-Marshal, Maj-Gen for disputing history

Seeks damages of just Rs 1

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19

The controversy generated over the authenticity of the Battle of Laungewala, fought on the western frontier during the 1971 Indo-Pak War, took a new twist with a decorated brigadier suing two former senior officers, who had recently disputed the standing history of the battle.

A local court today issued notices for July 26 to Air Marshal M.S. Bawa (retired), Maj-Gen Atma Singh (retired) and eight others on a petition filed by Brig Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (retired), who was then at the centre of the battle and was decorated with the Mahavir Chakra.

In February, Maj-Gen Atma Singh, an artillery air observation pilot, had claimed that the Army had hoodwinked the nation with false tales of valour and it was air power rather than ground action that had crushed the enemy. Atma Singh, who was then commanding No.12 Air Observation Post and was decorated with the Vir Chakra for his actions at Laungewala claimed that no ground battle was fought and the Army had merely rehearsed it on a sand model after the ceasefire to cover up the incompetence of senior commanders.

Two days later, Air Marshal Bawa, claimed that the ground operations at Laungewala were faked and the military leadership had schemed to glorify the Army's role. At the time of the battle, Bawa was an Air Commodore commanding the Jaisalmer airbase from where the IAF Hunter aircraft had operated.

According to the official history, Pakistani forces, backed by armour, had crossed into the Indian territory on the night of December 4-5 and made repeated attacks to overcome the Laungewala post, which was being defended by a company from 23 Punjab under the command of Chandpuri, then a Major.

Through the night, men of 23 Punjab held their ground against overwhelming odds, beating back the enemy. As many as five soldiers were killed and five seriously wounded from the company and the battalion was awarded the Battle Honour Laungewala.

The battle is a part of the curriculum taught to senior officers in the higher command course at the Army War College and has been immortalised by the Bollywood superhit Border.

Terming the claims of the aforementioned officers as slanderous and libelous, Brigadier Chandpuri has contended that the defendants have tarnished his image and reputation.

In his petition, he has stated that Bawa has contested the remarks on the operation made by his own chief, Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal, who in his book, 'My Years with the IAF', has written, "Maj Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, the company commander who took the brunt of the attack and fought with great grit, courage and determination, was awarded a very well-deserved Mahavir Chakra."

Seeking declaration to the effect that the articles published by the defendants are libelous, malicious, scandalous and frivolous because they are based on incorrect facts, the plaintiff has sought permanent injunction restraining the defendants from reiterating their claims regarding the Battle of Laungewala. While seeking compensatory damages of just a single rupee, the petition has sought award exemplary cost in favour of the plaintiff, which would be utilised for the benefit of the Laungewala war veterans.

Also see Indian Express

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interesting defence related RTI Query, equally interesting order by the Central Info Commission

Lt Col Kartar Singh of Dehradun had floated an interesting RTI Application. Though it was not exactly under the purview of the RTI Act and his queries did not even qualify the definition of ‘information’, here is what he had sought :-

Note :- The spelling mistakes / grammatical errors are not mine :-)

“(a) After the Supreme Court’s judgment, the issue of one rank
one pension was taken up with the then Prime Minister,
Indira Gandhi but IAS Cadre opposed it. When under the
similar circumstances, the Court’s Directive was
implemented in respect of their civilian counter part while the
MPs and the Judiciary got themselves entitled to the same.
Why then the Defence Pensioners were denied their rights,
justice and equality and treated so shabbily? Please
intimate the name (s) and designation (s) of the officer (s)
who was/ were responsible for the discrimination and one (s)
who approved this and their reasons to negate the Supreme
Court’s Directive and later the 4th and 5th CPC’s

(b) Rajiv Gandhi promised one rank one pension in his election
manifesto but after his victory said there were financial
constraints. Please give the name (s) of the officer (S) who
gave this advice and why?

(c) The then President of India addressing the first non
Congress government declared on the floor of the
Parliament House that his Government shall implement one
rank one pension but later nothing materialized. Who was
the person responsible to over ride the President’s
declaration and why?

(d) Why, after the Supreme Court Directive of Dec 1982, the
verdict of the specifically set up Central Administrative
Tribunal in favour of the pre 1973 defence pensioners
recommending the benefits of 1973 measures was never
implemented? And why later spilt hairs by going to the
Supreme Court and not honouring the agreement reached
between the advocates of the pensioners (will not insist for
gratuity) and of the government (not of oppose hike in
pension) thereby committing a breach of faith and trust?

(e) Why the recommendations of the 4th and 5th CPCs were
implemented in respect of civilian pensioners but those
relating to the Defence personnel and Pensioners were
modified to discriminate them? Please give name (S) and
designation (S) of the officer (S) for this divide and rule
policy and discrimination between the same class of people.
Photo copy of the internal file nothings justifying the denial
please be given.

(f) Why were the recommendation of the high level committees
set up by the government and chaired by Mr. Singh Deo,
and Shri Aeun Singh to grant one Rank one Pension were
not implemented? Please name the person and his reasons
to derail the justice. Please give photo copy of the internal
file nothings.

(g) Why the weight age to extend the actual service to 33 years
as pension able service was fixed arbitrarily as this amount
to breach of trust and faith. Please name the person for this
arbitrary decision and his reasons (please give the photo
copy of the internal file notings at all the levels.

(h) On what legal ground committees of Group of Ministers were
constituted later to negate and over ride the Supreme Court
Directive, the 4th and 5th CPCs recommendations and not
undo the arbitrary fixation of weight age that was to ensure
33 years pensionable service.

(i) Why the recommendations vide (d) and (f) were rejected (not
implemented) but those of at (h) were accepted. Please
name the advisor (s) in both the cases with detailed reasons.

(j) What is the government’s intention to refer to the 6th CPC
the issue of non implementation of Supreme Court’s
Directive and the recommendations of the last two CPCs
related to Defence Services Pensioners? Is it to further
delay the due rights and justice to the senior pensioners on
the verge of kicking the bucket so that more may die or is it
to seek approval of the arbitrary and discriminatory decision
making process of divide and rule.

(k) Why do the politician occupying the seat of power and
bureaucrat advisors feel/ think that they can legally reduce,
redefine and negate Supreme Court’s Directives and every
thing in the Constitution to suit their convenience and ulterior
motives? If ‘not’ then why this “non implementation” of the
Supreme Court Directive dated 17th December 1982 as well
as the recommendation of the 4th and 5th CPCs in respect of
Defence Services and Pensioners only. (Details of inter
office noting on the files leading to denial of justice please be

(l) Why did the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri misled the Parliament
when answering a supplementary to Un Starred question
No. 206 in December 2004, that there were no anomalies in
implementation of V CPC pension Award for Ex-Servicemen;
(Para 3 of his statement) when they are there a plenty in
black and white. Please name the person who wrote this
brief over looking the ground realities.

(m) Will, those responsible for arbitrariness and discriminatory
policies ever realize that, “if the treatment of those who
served to protect the national integrity, (giving the best part
of their lives) cannot be liberal or constructive and injustice
rectified, then, the Defences Forces will be filled with more
time servers than in the past and will stagnate to be a great
waste of ‘nation’s treasure in time to come”? Indications of
this unfortunately are already there and very much visible
and disturbing.

(n) Every time the issue of non implementation of the one rank
one pension and recommendations of the CPCs is taken up,
the response always has been the non existing boggy of
financial constraints. If this (financial constraints) is the
honest truth then will the government please answer why
these very financial constraints were not or are not
hindrance or are of no concern and therefore, not applicable

(aa) Civilian Pensioners.

(ab) MPs and MLAs.

(ac) Judiciary.

(ad) Granting of pensionary benefits recently to those MPs of by
gone days not entitled to so far.

(ae) Recent hike of Rs. 35,000/- in salary/ perks of Delhi MLAs
when the capital suffers lack of proper drainage system,
water, electricity and effective law and orders.

(af) MPs, voting for themselves ever increasing salaries,
pensions and perks by thousand of rupees so often and now
DA to RS. 1000/-pd when their food, residence and transport
is heavily subsidized/

(ag) Misuse of local area development fund by MPs as recently
exposed; crores are being wasted there being less of
development and more of corrupt practices.

(ah) Writing off damaged food grains worth crores of rupees
every year or so because of poor storage and lack of
effective supervision and control…

(ai) Writing off framers loans and electricity charges worth
thousand of crores every now and then without eliminating
the real cause of their problems- grossly reduced fertility of
land due to ever increasing input and over use of expensive
chemicals every year.

(aj) Creation of a renewal fund of RS. 500/- crores for the benefit
of the labour force of the Public sector Undertakings
incurring recurring losses.

(ak) When crores of rupees of the public money is wasted so
often in the Parliament due to non issues being raised,
stoppage of proceedings when the MPs disobey the
Speaker, followed by Frequent walk outs and avoidable
adjournment of the House.

(al) When the pension of a lakh of freedom fighters (who are still
said to be alive) is increased to over Rs. 10000/- pm when it
has been accepted that more than 40% are fake.

(am) The recent decision to pay Haj subsidies (Rs. 10000/- ph) to
additional 10000 Muslims (total now being 1,10000) every
year when India is a secular nation and the religion a
personal matter.

(an) Crores being spent on advertisements by the Centre to built
images of the political leaders.”

And here is what the Hon’ble Commission decided, an interesting order :

Having heard the parties and examined the record we find that indeed each of the questions posed under the heading Information sought and required are not requests for information but assertion with a wealth of innuendo. Even where information can be purported to have been sought, this cannot be defined as information u/s 2 (f) read with Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act and it refers to seeking the identity of those who in the view of appellant ‘conspired’ to deny servicemen their pensions. It can only, therefore, be inferred from the statement of respondent Shri Harbans Singh that such information as is sought by Lt. Col. Kartar Singh is not held by the public authority. What is clear from the application and the arguments before us is that Lt. Col. Kartar Singh nurses a deep grievance in the manner in which decisions of the Supreme Court regarding pre-1986 Defence Services Pensioners Pension have been disposed of.

Whereas, therefore, the request of Lt. Col. Kartar Singh is outside the purview of the RTI Act, giving due weight to the grievance held by this very senior officer of our Armed Forces and with fullest respect for his services to the nation, we have agreed to refer this matter to the Minister of Defence Shri A.K. Antony for sympathetic consideration.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

For lady officers, is Capt (Ms) ABC XYZ a correct or appropriate form of address ?

As we all know, addressing a male military officer as ‘Mister’ is considered disparaging. An officer earns his rank for life and can be known with no other title than the rank. In fact, even the Constitution of India in Article 18 recognizes the military rank as a title.

If that be so, then why do we address lady officers as, for example, Capt (Ms) ABC XYZ ? If addressing a military officer as ‘Mr’ is derogatory then why isn’t the same principle adopted for lady officers ?. Lady officers are an integral part of the military system of our era and it is high time we shed this gender bias. An officer is an officer, irrespective of gender. Why can't a lady officer be addressed simply as Capt ABC XYZ without the 'Ms/Mrs/Miss' bit ?

In the same spirit, we need to do away with the term ‘Ex-Serviceman’, perhaps ‘Ex-Servicemember’, ‘Ex-Serviceperson’ or simply ‘Veteran’ may be more appropriate.

It may not be out of place to mention here that the British and the American Armies do not have a system of referring to lady officers as Ms/Mrs/Ms and just the rank is used.

To see the appropriate form of address as officially laid down by the American Army, Click here

Released Short Service / Emergency Commissioned and other contractual personnel are authorized medical facilities

Some Military Hospitals and medical establishments have not been entertaining released SSCOs/ECOs and other contractual employment personnel on the ground that according to rules they are not authorized service medical facilities. As it is, such personnel are not entitled to ECHS benefits.

This approach is incorrect and is in contravention of Rules.

Though broadly speaking only those personnel are entitled to medical facilities who have earned a pension from the forces but the MoD through DGAFMS Letter No 44017/DGAFMS/DG-IC dated 11 Aug 1997 had clearly clarified that “any person who has been released from service after completing the specified period of engagement, otherwise than at his (or her - it's high time for us faujis to be gender sensitive) own request or by way of dismissal or discharge on account of misconduct or inefficiency and has been given a gratuity" shall remain entitled to avail medical facilities.
So if you are in the category and have been refused medical facilities in the past, you know what to quote next time :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How do States treat the Military ?, here’s how :

The Warrant of Precedence issued by the Central Govt determines the inter-se status between Civil functionaries and officers of the Military. The Central WoP is only till the rank of Major General.

Contrary to popular perception, the Central WoP is not that skewed, and in fact is quite balanced except for the glaringly disproportionate equation of a Joint Secretary Govt of India with a Major General. The equation postulated by the Central WoP is :

Article 11 : Cabinet Secretary

Article 12 : Chiefs of Services

Article 23 : Lt Gen (GOsC-in-C) / Secretary to Govt of India / Chief Secretaries of States when within their States

Article 24 : Lt Gen

Article 25 : Additional Secretary to Govt of India / Chief Secretaries when outside their States / Ds G of Central Police Organizations

Other Secretarial Ranks (not listed in the Central WoP) in the Govt of India and States have the following broad equation :

Under Secretary to Govt of India (Joint Secretary in States) : Captain (Major in case 6th CPC recommendations are accepted as they are)

Deputy Secretary to Govt of India (Director / Additional Secretary in States) : Major (Lt Col in case 6th CPC recommendations are accepted as they are)

Director to Govt of India (Special Secretary in States) : Lt Col (Col in case 6th CPC recommendations are accepted as they are)

According to instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 1966, the old Warrant of 1937 is applicable below the rank of Major General and the same has been conveyed to all State Governments. The current applicability of these instructions of 1966 has been confirmed by the MHA to me vide a letter as recent as August 2007.

The actual Warrant of Precedence, down till the rank of Major, is already available in this blog. You may click here to peruse the same.

Certain States have however floated their own warrants which are in utter violation of Central Govt instructions. A common problem is the equation of a DC/DM with a Brigadier when attending ceremonial functions within the district of his charge irrespective of the actual grade of the officer concerned. This has been in practice because in a district the DC/DM is supposed to be at the forefront of all functions and ceremonial occasions due to which there’s a functional requirement of preferential seating alongwith visiting dignitaries. This equation has not only rankled the defence services but also Civil Service officers since junior officers posted as DCs/DMs take precedence over their seniors in civil services within their districts. To take a similar example, in the old Warrant of 1937, Brigadiers commanding Infantry and Armoured Brigades held a much higher position than other Brigadiers.
Even if we keep aside the above, some States have made a mockery of the existing instructions on the issue, Some examples :-

Click here to see Meghalaya’s Warrant of Precedence

Meghalaya has placed a Joint Secretary to the State Govt (equivalent to Captain) on Article 18 over and above a Brigadier who is listed on Article 19.

Addl DCs/Addl DMs who can be officers of the Junior Time Scale (Lieutenant) and Addl Superintendents of Police have been placed on Article 20 alongwith Colonels and Lt Colonels.

Sub-Divisional Officers (C) (equivalent to Lieutenants) have been placed on Article 21 which is two Articles higher than Majors who have been kept on Article 23 alongwith, hold your breath, DySPs/Asst SPs. Now it may not be out of place to mention that a DSP in many states is a Group-B (formerly known as Class-II) Officer who actually is equated with a Subedar Major. In fact even the 6th CPC has equated a DSP/ACP of the Delhi & Andaman Islands Police Service (which is under the Central Govt) with Subedar Majors of the Army

Click here to see Mizoram’s Warrant of Precedence

Another State which has equated an SDO (c) with a Major on Article 26 alongwith Under Secretaries to State Govt (Lieutenant) is Mizoram. This State has also, throwing all norms to the wind, equated Office Superintendents / Superintendents of Excise / Distt Employment Officers / Youth Welfare Officers / Sanitation Officers / Assistants to Collectors (All Group B / Class II) with a Captain of the Army.

Click here to see J&K’s Warrant of Precedence

People would think that the J&K govt must be very thankful to the Army for obvious reasons. But read on to learn what they think of our Military ranks and status.

The J&K Govt places the Chiefs of the Services on Article 21 as opposed to Article 12 in the Central Warrant. Interestingly, High Court Judges who are junior to the Chiefs in the Central Warrant (Article 17) are listed higher at Article 18 in the J&K WoP.

Lt Generals are listed alongwith DsG of CPOs whereas they are senior in comparison in the Central WoP

Civil Officers of the Selection Grade (equivalent to Lt Col) are listed on Article 29 alongwith Brigadiers. Even Superintending Engineers (SEs) are listed on the same Article with Brigadiers.

The Army being a Central subject and listed on the Union List of the Constitution of India is not obliged to follow these illegal orders of precedence which have been formulated by States by flouting Central Govt guidelines with impunity. Maybe it is time for Govt of India to step in and set things right.......

Friday, July 4, 2008

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) all set to be operational

If all goes well, this Independence Day may see the inauguration of the Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) at Delhi. The notification for the formation of the AFT has already been issued. Under the authority of Section 5 (4) of the Act, the govt can establish benches at other places too.

The Tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson and other Administrative and Judicial Members. The Chairperson shall be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a High Court. High Court Judges would be qualified to be appointed as Judicial Members while Officers of the rank of Major General (or above) who have held the appointment of JAG in any of the services for atleast one year shall be eligible to be appointed as Administrative Members.

The AFT shall have power to deal with service matters of members of the armed forces. It shall also act as an Appellate body for Court Martials. Even NOK / Legal heirs of members of the armed forces would be able to approach the tribunal in certain circumstances.

Under Section 30 of the Act, an appeal from the orders of the AFT shall lie to the Supreme Court. The AFT has been provided extraordinary powers of Contempt by virtue of Section 19 vide which an imprisonment upto 3 years can be awarded.

While the legal community has welcomed the decision, the only apprehension is that officers who have in the past served in the JAG branch should not have ideally been incorporated to have a place on the bench of the Tribunal for the reason of having been an instrumentality of the Army while in service. Further it would be difficult to look for ‘Administrative Members’ who have served as JAG except for the JAG himself, the posts of such members thus being assured for retiring JsAG of the services. The basis of demand of jurists for a body such as the AFT was that there was no provision of an appeal under any of the Military Acts against punishments rendered by Court Martials.


Post facto note :- Refer Paragraph 2 of my blog above. It has now come to light that the Original AFT Act contained a stipulation that any officer who has held the rank of Major General or above for 3 years OR an officer who has held the appointment of JAG in the Army / Navy / Air Force for atleast 1 year shall be eligible for appointment as an ‘Administrative Member’. However mysteriously, when the final notification of the Act was issued, the word ‘OR’ was replaced by ‘AND’ thus implying that only former JsAG could be appointed and not other officers. This has now been brought to the notice of the Raksha Mantri who has not taken it very kindly and ordered the correction of this error. Interestingly, the original AFT Bill (which is available in this blogger’s possession) did not contain any mention of JAG and only stated that any officer who has held the rank of Major General or above for 3 years shall be eligible for appointment.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A reason to cheer for Majors/Lt Colonels too ? Additional pay bands may be recommended for mid level officers !

The Sixth CPC had recommended just one pay-band (PB-3) for officers from the rank of Lieutenant to Brigadier. The Anomalies Committee however, according to reports, is going to recommend different (enhanced) pay-bands for mid level officers. The earlier recommended 4 pay-bands are also being jacked up to 10. Let's see what ultimately happens since the committee is yet to present its final report.

More in 'The Tribune' today, Click here to see

New scales, 15 pc additional pay for armed forces
Implementation from Jan ’07
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2The Pay Revision Committee has suggested an additional pay of 15 per cent for the armed and paramilitary forces, over and above the revised basic pay scales. The committee has also proposed to upwardly revise the basic pay scales recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC) and an increase in grade pay at all levels.

The SPC had recommended a maximum grade pay of Rs 13,000, while the committee has suggested Rs 18,000 as the highest grade pay. The grade pay fixed by the SPC for the junior most Group A officer was Rs 5,400, which the committee has increased to Rs 7,000. The committee has also suggested annual increments of four per cent instead of the 2.5/3.5 per cent recommended by the SPC. The suggestions drafted by the committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, are subject to final approval and sanction of the Cabinet.

However, the committee has also suggested that new pay scales be implemented with effect from January 1, 2007, instead of January 1, 2006, that was recommended by the SPC. If approved, this would imply that Central government employees would not get arrears equivalent to one year’s revised salary as was being expected. The recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission were implemented with effect from January 1996. Since a pay commission is set up once it 10 years, it was believed that the recommendations of the SPC would be implemented from January 2006.

According to documents available with The Tribune, the 15 per cent additional pay worked out by the committee ranges from Rs 1,248 per month at the lowest level to a maximum of Rs 9,048 at the highest.

In addition, the committee has suggested 15 pay scales instead of the 22 recommended by the SPC. It has that also suggested 10 pay bands instead of the four recommended by the latter.
The lowest pay scale (1-S) recommended by the SPC was 4440-7440 1300. The corresponding pay scale (PB-1) suggested by the committee is 5,500-16,500 with grade pay of Rs 2,500. The basic pay works out to be Rs 8,000 and with the inclusion of annual increment (4 pc), dearness allowance (15 pc) and the 15 per cent additional pay, the lowest gross pay works out to be Rs 10,816.

The highest pay scale recommended by the SPC was 39,200-67,000 13,000. The corresponding scale suggested by the committee is 40,000-60,000 along with a grade pay of Rs 18,000. In this scale, the basic pay works out to be Rs 58,000 and with the inclusion of increment, DA and additional pay the gross pay at the highest level (PB-10) works out to be Rs 78,416.

Applicable allowances and benefits depending upon the service and place of posting are separate.
Prior to the SPC recommendations, the Central government had pay scales running from S-1 to S-32. The SPC recommendations placed the existing scales from S-1 to S-3 in the pay band 1-S, from S-4 to S-8 in the pay band PB-1, from S-9 to S-15 in the pay band PB-2, from S-16 to S-27 in the pay band PB-3 and from S-28 to S-32 in the pay band PB-4. The committee has divided these into 10 pay bands.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Late Sam Bahadur : A tale of a military legend and legendary protocol & red-tapism of our officialdom

Reports in newspapers that the late Field Marshal was not accorded a State funeral because of the fact that his name did not appear in the Warrant of Precedence left me aghast. Either the news-reports were based on rumours or our official machinery is absolutely oblivious of the rules and precedents of precedence.

Firstly, is there a requirement of featuring on the Warrant of Precedence to be accorded the status of a national hero ? I don’t think so. Secondly, the rank of a Field Marshall is a rank for life and in military protocol it is on top of the hierarchy above a full General and hence if a General is featured on Article 12 of the Warrant of Precedence, naturally a Field Marshall has to be accorded a status above Article 12. And where is it stated in the Warrant of Precedence that national military heroes would not be granted their due status by the nation because they do not feature on this one-sided piece of paper called Warrant of Precedence ?. The WoP does not talk of State funerals, period.

Our senior leaders and MHA top shots also seem to be unaware of the following note by none less than the then Prime Minister of India reflected in Order No 12/2/56-Public dated 02 August 1956 issued by Govt of India, MHA :-

“It should be remembered always that non-officials, although not included in the WoP, can always be given a high place and sometimes a very high place in accordance with their general standing….There can be no hard and fast rule about this matter and some discretion has to be exercised on particular occasions. This should be made clear to State Governments, as well as, of course, at the Centre”

Now how do they justify what happened in light of the above ?

To see Govt of India Order dated 02-08-1956 with the PM’s remarks,
Click here for Page 2

The Precedence list of the United States is much better in this aspect. It accords the same precedence to retired and serving officers. The only thing is that retired officers take precedence immediately after active duty officers.

See Note 8 of the US Precedence list through the following link :