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 Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained.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, December 31, 2009

A good effort by AFRO

In light of the implementation of the recommendations of the 6th CPC, the Air Force Records Office (AFRO) has brought out a nice booklet which provides a rudimentary bird’s eye view of benefits available to released / discharged / retired personnel.

Though the said guide should not be used as an authority for claiming pensionary or other benefits and is also not technically perfect at places, it definitely provides a good insight into various entitlements.

Besides pensionary and other retiral benefits after the 6th CPC, the said handbook contains information on ECHS, Placement nodes and other welfare related subjects. It also serves as a guide for filling up of pension related forms.

It makes a good reading for personnel of the Army and Navy too since most of the modalities cover all three services.

An e-version of the handbook can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Delay in release of gratuity ?

Click here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Battle of Saragarhi

Readers may read about the Great Battle of Saragarhi here.

The Saragarhi War Memorial located at Ferozepur in Punjab is almost in a state of neglect and the precincts are also under occupation of a certain religious sect, members of which are not exactly carrying out activities which go with the sanctity of the memorial.

Interestingly, the website of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had listed the memorial as a protected monument, but when the said notification was sought from them, they replied that it was an incorrect entry on their site and the memorial was not actually a protected monument. Interesting !

Strange that we are allowing our Military History to wither away.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So what is ‘Annexure-IV’ ? (Attention : Pre 01-01-2006 Pensioners)

In a welcome move, a joint public notice by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance was published yesterday in many newspapers.

The said notice called upon banks to provide ‘Annexure-IV’ to pre-01-01-2006 pensioners so that the correctness of pension and arrears could be ascertained.

So what is ‘Annexure-IV’ ?

‘Annexure-IV’ is a form which was annexed with Govt of India letter dated 11 Nov 2008 dealing with the revision of pension of pre-2006 pensioners. This annexure was supposed to be filled up and returned by the Pension Disbursing Agencies (PDAs), that is, banks, DPDOs etc to the office of PCDA(P) with a copy to the pensioner concerned. The said Annexure contains all details as to how pension has been calculated and the arrears thereon.

The public notice was necessitated by the situation that banks have not calculated pension of pre-06 pensioners correctly in many cases and neither have they returned Annexure-IV duly filled to the pensioners or the office of PCDA(P).

All pensioners have a right to demand a copy of Annexure-IV from their PDAs. Please exercise it.

For those who are still hazy about the said Annexure may download it by clicking here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The elusive solution !!! Where is it ?

When I wrote about the new stipulation for promotion to SAG and HAG on the civil side, as recently conveyed to all Ministries by the DoPT, many had rued that all civil servants would now reach the grade pay of Maj Gen in 17 years of service. This is a misconception. The service postulated by the DoPT is the minimum required service for promotion to these grades and does not mean that officers would be automatically placed in the SAG on completing 17 years in their respective services. On a similar note, the defence services also have minimum prescribed limits for military ranks which are 15, 23, 25 and 28 years for Cols, Brigs, Maj Gens, Lt Gens / Army Cdrs respectively and 12, 20 and 25 years for Acting Brigs, Maj Gens and Lt Gens. But this of course does not translate into promotions on reaching such prescribed service limits. Have you heard of an officer becoming a Brig in 12 years ?. Same would remain the case with the civil services. Any blind emulation of the civil system of rank progression as it is cannot be implemented in the defence services. We cannot have all defence officers promoted as Maj Generals after 17 years of service, can we ? In my humble opinion, though many readers of this blog differ with me on this, the rank of Time Scale Col @ 18 years of service is also not a desirable option. One just cannot have all officers with 18 years behind them sporting red georgette (gorget) patches on their collars. This does not go with the command and control scheme of any defence service and neither has been implemented in any part of the world. Reducing the current time-frame of 26 years to about 21-23 years for officers who are not able to make it to the selection grade of Col may be a more practical solution.

However, again I would say that the best way out of this would be to de-link pay progression from military ranks. Readers may like to view this earlier post on the issue. And this one too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Parity between pre and post 2006 retirees : Story not over yet !!?!!

The government had officially closed the chapter for grant of any additional benefit to pre-2006 retirees or any improvement in the modified parity already implemented (2.26 of old basic pension OR 50% of minimum of new pay band + Grade Pay + MSP when applicable, whichever is higher). Similarly, the government had also officially closed the chapter for grant of full pension to retirees who had been released between 01-01-2006 and 02-09-2008 after putting in 20 years of service. As we know, the government has already relented on the latter aspect and even issued the letter granting the benefit. Now it seems that there is going to be a re-think on improving the modified parity granted to pre-2006 pensioners.

In a meeting between the National Anomalies Committee on the 6th CPC Chaired by the Secretary Personnel, Govt of India, and the Confederation of Central Govt Employees and Workers, the government has decided to consider the issue once again. It would be worthwhile to state that almost all pensionary modalities made applicable to civil employees are extended to defence personnel also.

More details on the meeting can be accessed by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Organised Group A Civil Services soon to have a uniform promotion policy for senior grades

The Sixth Pay Commission had recommended uniformity in promotion policies of various organised Group A Civil Services. The DoPT has issued instructions to all cadre controlling agencies yesterday to initiate amendment in service rules. Broadly, the following shall now be the eligibility criterion for promotion to senior executive appointments, that is, SAG (Pay Band-4, GP 10000) and HAG (67000-79000) :

For promotion to Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) : Minimum service requirement of 17 years

For promotion to Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) : Minimum service requirement of 25 years

The letter issued by DoPT yesterday can be downloaded and accessed by clicking here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Extension of free gift schemes to CSD consumers and a need to check default

Many a times, service-members and veterans end up buying consumer goods from the open market because of the reason that certain offers and free gift schemes are not made available to CSD customers. Some of our people also believe that such schemes are not ‘legally’ not meant to be extended to CSD consumers.

This is however an unfair trade practice by suppliers and dealers. If a gift scheme is offered by a supplier in the open market to all consumers and is not only a local arrangement by a particular dealer, it is bound to be extended to the CSD too. Entitled personnel should make it a point to survey the market first and demand gift schemes from the concerned dealers if the same are being extended to customers other than CSD consumers. In case of default, the same may be immediately reported to the following address :

Customer Service Cell
c/o DGM (MS)
Canteen Stores Department
‘Adelphi’, 119, M K Road
Mumbai – 400 020

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A. 33 years’ requirement for earning full pension waived for post-Jan 06 / pre-Sept 08 civil retirees too B. Retd Offrs reqd for Commonwealth Games

The requirement for 33 years of service for earning full pension has now been dispensed with for Post-Jan 06 and Pre-Sept 08 central govt civil pensioners too. Now all those who retired after 01-01-2006 with 20 years of service would be entitled to full pension. Also the govt has ordained that no recoveries would be made on account of the revised dispensation which may now result in a lower amount of gratuity than the one already paid (by including weightage which is not applicable now).

Secondly, the Commonwealth Games organising committee has shown interest in employing retired officers for the games. Retired Colonels would be appointed as Directors @ Rs 60,000 per month, Majors and Lt Cols can join as Project Officers @ Rs 45,000 per month and Capts can join as Asst Project Officers @ Rs 35,000 per month. The vacancies are limited and would be screened by a board. Those interested may contact Major Rao, the Chairman-cum-MD of Skylark Group, on his personal number 9811441189 or on 0124-4557000. Please do not mark your queries on this to me or to my personal email ID. Thanks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pension Blues

Despite the fact that the implementation of pensionary modalities after the 6th CPC started almost a year back, defence pensioners are still facing a lot of problems with their Pension Disbursing Agencies (PDAs). Most of these are regarding incorrect fixation of pension and non-receipt of arrears. I receive a lot many mails on the subject and most pensioners want to jump on to the stage of litigation straightaway. This is not the correct approach and litigation should always be the last and ultimate resort after all channels are exhausted.

Before deliberating any kind of litigation, pensioners / family pensioners / disability pensioners must always undertake the following :

A. Send a copy of the grievance to the Pension Disbursing Agency (Bank / DPDO etc) in writing through Registered Post.

B. Endorse a separate copy to the office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Draupadi Ghat, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Oral requests and mere visits would not be of any use unless the grievance is reduced in writing and communicated.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Q & A (7)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

Thanks for the good work being carried out by you through this blog. It has become a routine for us to visit your blog. I had a query regarding the need to travel by Air India for LTC. The recent post shows that the travel by Air India is compulsory if the money is being paid by government. Is it the same for LTC also ? (Lt Cdr Ranjan)


The delay and interpretation of CDA(O) for various claims leaves a lot to be desired. Most correspondence in this regard also goes unanswered. Even DO letters to concerned Accounts Officer and Principal CDA(O) are not replied to. What/Who should be the next step in grievance Redressal mechanism as regards CDA(O) ? (AC)

Simple. As discussed earlier in the Q&A section, use the RTI Act. Ask them about the action taken on your grievances through the RTI Act.

I wanted to know the disability (100%) pension and attendant allowance that my husband is entitled to after serving for 21 yrs and 9 months. He lost his eyesight in an accident on temporary duty. Please provide the rates before and after Jan 2006.Thanking in anticipation. (Aneeta)

As of now, the disability element rate for pre-06 retirees is Rs 5880/- per month for 100% disability + the applicable Dearness Relief. The rate applicable during the 5th CPC regime was Rs 2600/- per month. The rate of disability element is however likely to be revised soon. CAA is now admissible @ Rs 3000/- per month, earlier it was Rs 600/- per month.

Have the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries been implemented ? (Col Srinivas)

The recommendations have been accepted. As on date, implementation orders have been issued only regarding the two issues of grant of classification pay for pensionary purposes and removal of 33 years’ service requirement for earning a full pension for officers who retired between Jan 2006 and Sept 2008.

Is it true that while defence forces are under the purview of the RTI Act, the para-military forces have been excluded from the same ? (Mahavir Singh, DIG)

Surprisingly Yes. However the govt is actively considering bringing the para-military forces under the purview of the RTI Act it is learnt. Moreover, the MHA is very much under the purview of the Act and in case the information required has a link with the Home Ministry, the RTI application can be sent to the MHA instead of the concerned CPO.

Monday, December 7, 2009

MEA being unfair to non-IFS Group A as well as Commissioned Officers

Everybody’s a royalty within his or her own domain. The MEA hence has its turf in our missions abroad.

Officers of Central Group A Services and Commissioned Officers are not getting their due while being on the strength of foreign missions. And this applies to status, entitlements as well as allowances. As we know, after the 6th CPC, Grade Pay is the determinant of all entitlements and allowances under the Central Government in India, but the same analogy is not being followed by the MEA in foreign missions, which are in fact, in accordance with law, a part of Indian Territory.

Colonels and equivalent of the Army (PB-4/GP 8700) and at times officers of the Rank of Director to Govt of India (PB-4/GP 8700) are being equated with First Secretaries of the MEA staff (PB-3/GP 7600) for the purposes of protocol and also foreign allowances. The Counsellor of the Mission from the IFS (PB-4/ GP 8700) outranks all other officers of similar grade from other services and in fact is granted a higher protocol than even a Brigadier of the Army (PB-4/GP 8900). Brigadiers have been tagged with Counsellors for rates of entitlements. Officers of the grade of Director to Govt of India with 20 years of service when on deputation to missions are being designated ‘First Secretaries’, an appointment which is essentially held by officers of the IFS with 9 years of service. It is also learnt that officers of the rank of Lt Col (PB-4/GP 8000) are being equated with IFS officers who are two ranks junior, that is, Second Secretaries (PB-3/GP 6600), for the purposes of certain entitlements whereas as far as I know, even MoD letter No 4(1)/98/D(Pay/Services) dated 19 May 1999 states that it is Majors who shall be equated with Second Secretaries for such purposes. Incidentally the ibid MoD letter also clearly stipulates that ‘pay’ for defence officers shall include (the then applicable)‘rank pay’.

The correct equation in Missions after the 6th CPC definitely has to be the following as far as the Defence Services are concerned : Minister – Brigadier – Counsellor / Colonel – Lt Col – First Secretary – Second Secretary / Major.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This would not be music to Veerapa Moily’s ears

As discussed here earlier, the Law Minister aspires to make the Government a ‘responsible and reluctant’ litigant.

However this story here may not be music to his ears at all I bet.

The government machinery needs to be more sensitive to the needs of pensioners. The above report shows how some elements on the Legal Advisory side in the Ministry of Defence have been ignoring requests from the Army and also putting aside legal advice from the highest echelons of the Law Ministry resulting in wilful denial of benefits to poor disabled soldiers. This not only affects the morale of our veterans but also results in embarrassment to the Army in particular and the Ministry of Defence in general. Very sad indeed.

A related story appeared in the same columns earlier.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Audi Alteram Partem

“Top General indicted….”,

“The Court of Inquiry into the Darjeeling scam case has brought out….”

Thus screamed the ‘Indian Express’ last morning. The lead was followed by others too.

But the news-reports are so cleverly worded that there is no inkling whatsoever whether the CoI has actually concluded or not. Or whether there has been an indictment at all. If the Inquiry report has not yet been submitted, then how can the guilt be conjectured?

Nobody should be condemned unheard, but it seems Gupta Sahib has others plans. This is character assassination at its worst. Imaginary speculation again at work.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Two employment advertisements : One sad commentary

Look inwards.

It is sometimes appalling to hear the oft repeated fury towards the so called ‘netas and babus’ by the military community. It is no more than a delusion of persecution on our part. It seems that we have been brainwashed to believe that those in the government have nothing better to do than to cut the military to size. True, there has been a degradation of military sheen in the society in general for which successive governments have to take responsibility, but to totally put it upon ‘netas and babus’ and to act as holy cows in the bargain would not be fair at all. First of all, our own people are unable to get their acts together – and the constant e-mail wars, litigation and lack of common ground between various veteran organisations bear testimony to the fact. Secondly, we have started behaving as if the world at large owes us something, we want to be treated as so far special and removed from the general society that we need a wake up call, something to the effect of an alarm bell screaming – “Welcome to the real world !!!.” Most of the problems are self-created since we do not believe in thinking logically, democratically and within the four corners of what is acceptable and rational. Which brings me back to the subject at hand. There are two advertisements for deputation and re-employment of released military officers doing the rounds, one issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the other issued by the Directorate General of EME. Have a dekko:

Ministry of Home Affairs : Requirement of Officers to be appointed as PROs in BSF

Scale of Pay : Pay Band-3 / GP 6600 (Formerly 10000-15200)

Rank of officers sought on re-employment / deputation terms : Captains

Army's Directorate General of EME : Requirement of Officers to be appointed as Executive Engineers

Scale of Pay : Pay Band-3 / GP 6600 (Formerly 10000-15200)

Rank of officers sought on re-employment / deputation terms : Full Colonels / Lt Colonels

So there you have it. Charity begins at home. While the MHA seeks officers of the rank of Capt for a particular post, the Directorate General of EME seeks Cols and Lt Cols for a post of the same level with the same pay. And to add to it, it mentions in the advertisement that in actual terms the appointment of EEs is tenable by Majors. Some may jump in to say that Cols and Lt Cols are being re-employed as Capts and Majs even within the Army. But that my dear Sirs and Ma’ams is different. Within the Army you have the benefit of your uniform where you wear your actual ranks badges and enjoy the same entitlements coupled with the awareness of the position from where you retired which your colleagues recognise. Getting re-employed as a civilian is a different ball game altogether. We are unable to foresee what damage such actions would cause some years into the future. There would be no dearth of supply of Short Service Capts and Majors from the technical Arms who would love to join as EEs, why not give them this opportunity ? But what we are in short supply of is something else. It is application of mind and depth in work. Period.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The journey continues……

The blog has today clocked Two Million visits.

I try my best to squeeze out some minutes everyday, but when I am unable to do so because of paucity of time from my profession, it is the visitors who ensure that the blog assumes a life of its own, and therefore from the bottom of my heart I thank all readers for making this what it is !.

It is good time to ping you back to the first post on the blog.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much needed clarification issued by DoPT on CEA

Fancy names are these days being used for the classes of ‘Nursery’ and ‘Kindergarten’. Some new school chains call them ‘Pre-School’, some ‘Toddler Class’ and so on.

This gave some accountants that extra fodder for their never-ending search for red-tapist impediments. Objections were positioned on the ground that CEA could not be granted for ‘Pre-School’ or any other class and it was only applicable for classes ‘Nursery’ till ‘Twelfth’.

Well, the DoPT has taken notice of this and issued a clarification yesterday that CEA would be granted to Two classes prior to Class-I irrespective of the nomenclature used by schools.

The clarification issued by the DoPT can be accessed by clicking here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-2006 disability pensioners may have something to look forward to

During the 5th CPC regime, disability pension of defence personnel was calculated on a slab-system basis while civil disability pensioners were placed on a percentage basis.

While defence personnel were granted disability element @ Rs 2600 for officers, 1900 for JCOs and 1550 for Other Ranks (all rates for 100% disability), civilians were granted a disability element @ 30% of basic pay. The slab system was beneficial for some lower ranks of the forces but was not quite congenial to the overall scenario.

Recognising this anomaly, the 6th CPC rightly recommended that even defence personnel should be placed on a percentage system of calculating disability element. However while accepting the new dispensation, the Govt made it applicable only to post-2006 pensioners while retaining the old slab system for pre-2006 pensioners. This resulted in a great disparity between pre and post-2006 disabled personnel. To take an example, a General who may have retired on 31 December 2005 was entitled to a disability element of Rs 5880 per month while a General who retired a day later with the same disability on 01 January 2006 was entitled to Rs 27000 as disability element. The injury is the same, the rank is the same but the disability element, well… The issue has been discussed in more detail in this earlier post with examples.

The above seemed even more unjustified in the light of the fact that when the percentage system was introduced for civil disability pensioners in the 5th CPC, it was made applicable to pre-1996 (pre-5th CPC) pensioners as well. Moreover when the 6th CPC had tried to remove this anomaly between defence and civil disability pensioners, the said rectification had to date back to the inception of the anomaly (1996) and not from a prospective date. The Hon’ble Courts have also time and again ruled that when an anomaly is rectified, it has to date back to the time when such an incongruity came into being and not from the date when the decision of such rectification is taken.

Thankfully, there are indications that the new stipulation is going to be extended to pre-2006 disability pensioners too, very soon. Personnel who retired prior to 01 January 2006 would then also be placed on a percentage system for calculation of disability element. Of course this shall be subject to a minimum grant of Rs 3100 as disability element for 100% disability. This should take care of a very major grey area as far as our disability pensioners are concerned.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Special recruitment drive for veterans in the CRPF

The central govt has approved a special recruitment drive for ex-servicemen in the CRPF.

Ex-Sepoys can join the force on a contractual basis as Constables while former Naib Subedars and Subedars can join as Sub-Inspectors.

The highlight of the drive is that the physical, domiciliary and educational qualifications for both appointments have been completely waived for such veterans.

There shall be no written or preliminary examination and such interested candidates can simply appear before the special recruitment boards to be held in Jallandhar (Punjab), Allahabad (UP), Bangalore (Karnataka), Hyderabad (AP).

The selected ex-servicemen shall be entitled to draw full military pension alongwith full pay from the CRPF (Appx Rs 12000 for Constable and Rs 18000 for SI).

Readers may render assistance in conveying this important announcement to interested released personnel and also to establishments dealing with the subject.

Complete details can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Principles laid down in ‘Union of India Vs Maj Gen SPS Vains’ case would not apply to Civil pensioners : Govt of India

The Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare has yesterday issued a letter rejecting the claims of civil pensioners and pensioners’ associations on the applicability of the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in UOI Vs Maj Gen SPS Vains.

The said department has apparently taken the decision in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law.

The ibid letter can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(A) 33 years stipulation gone for commissioned officers too w.e.f 01 Jan 06, and (B) Classification allowance benefits for PBOR

Full pension after rendering 20 years of service was earlier announced only for those officers who retired after 01-09-2008 while the same was made applicable to PBOR w.e.f 01-01-2006. The Committee of Secretaries had however recommended that even commissioned officers who retired between 01-01-2006 and 01-09-2008 should be allowed this benefit.

The govt has accepted the recommendation and issued orders for payment of full pension to those officers who had retired with 20 years of service or above between 01-01-2006 and 01-09-2008.

The govt has also decided that in respect of PBOR who were discharged / invalided between 01-01-2006 and 31-08-2008, the rates of classification allowance made applicable w.e.f 01-09-2008 would now reckon notionally w.e.f 01-01-2006 for the purposes of determining reckonable emoluments for pension.

The letter issued by the Ministry of Defence to the effect can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Armed Forces Tribunal is now functional at Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur and Chandigarh

The Armed Forces Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over both service as well as court-martial issues concerning the three services, is now operational at Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur and Chandigarh.

The Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal was inaugurated by Justice T S Thakur, Chief Justice of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court who is going to be elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court today. The bench having jurisdiction over Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, J&K and HP was notified with effect from 16 Nov 2009.

A comprehensive news-report on the same can be accessed by clicking here.

It was also a good day for civilian retirees. The applicability of a new stipulation on encashment of leave has been taken back to 01 Jan 2006 instead of the earlier cut-off date of 01 Sept 2008. The letter issued yesterday evening by the Govt of India to this effect can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Law Minister re-emphasises that Govt would soon be a ‘responsible’ and ‘reluctant’ litigant

As this news-report would signify, sometimes our Hon’ble Courts are burdened with unnecessary litigation. Filing of cases and appeals, especially in employee and pension related matters, becomes more of a power-ego-play for departments rather than a vehicle of justice. Serving and former staff members of govt related organisations who approach Hon’ble Courts for justice are often seen as enemies of the system rather than aggrieved persons seeking application of the principles of fairness.

With this background, the speech of our Law Minister in the recently concluded ‘All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal’ comes as a welcome step. Here are a few excerpts from the same :

“…You must be aware that we are progressing towards bringing judicial reforms. One of the agenda before the Government is that we want to remove the tag of 'biggest litigant'. We are formalizing the policy of Government litigation. We are collecting data from all the Departments of the Government regarding cases pending in the Courts and Tribunals. We will analyze those cases and take necessary corrective steps. Our efforts are that Government should go in litigation only where it is necessary. Unnecessary appeals should not be filed on behalf of the Government. Soon we will formalize our policy…”

“…The Central Government is proposing the introduction of a litigation policy. The government is to be transformed from a compulsive litigant into a responsible and reluctant litigant. An action plan in this behalf will be launched separately. It has a two pronged approach - identifying and removing ‘useless’ cases which are burdening the docket. This should be done at the earliest…”

“…The present system viz ‘let the Tribunal decide every case’ must be eliminated. Setting up of Empowered Government Committees to eliminate unnecessary litigation need to be considered…”

A very good approach indeed. Hope it translates into action on the ground !

Friday, November 13, 2009

Updated comprehensive (but thankfully uncomplicated) guide to the Right to Information regime issued by the DoPT

A detailed but simple guide-book has been issued by the Department of Personnel and Training for PIOs, Public Authorities, Information Seekers and First Appellate Authorities. Publishing of such a guide is the mandate of Section 26 of the RTI Act.

I’ve always maintained that all responsible members of the public as well as those serving in the government sector should be well versed with the provisions of the Act. This guide is a good opportunity to learn more about this revolutionary piece of legislation.

And yes, the Central Govt has explicitly provided in the guide that Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) designated in Post Offices shall act as PIOs for all Central Govt establishments in the country. Meaning thereby that an applicant can simply endorse his / her RTI Application to the nearest Post Office, irrespective of where the public authority (from whom information is sought) is located.

The guide can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A simple way out of the pension mess

Cut-off dates have brought in complete mayhem in the system.

The law of proportions is not in place both on the civil and the military side. For example, there are cases wherein the differentia of a thousand rupees or so operative on 31-12-2005 has gone up to more than ten thousand a day later on 01-01-2006. There were other freak cases on the civil side wherein a person who was in receipt of Rs 12999 as pension on 31-12-2005 had been placed @ Rs 29379 the next day while a person who was getting a rupee more at Rs 13000 had been placed at Rs 40000. Hence a difference of one rupee on 31-12-2005 had translated into a gap of about eleven thousand a day later on 01-01-2006.

I think the simplest way out would be to base pensions of various grades (who retired before the date of implementation of a particular pay commission) on a percentage basis with reference to the highest grade in the govt. For example, if the highest grade in the govt (Chiefs of Services and the Cabinet Secretary) is placed at a pension of Rs 45,000, then the next below (Apex) can be placed @ 95% of the same, the HAG+ can be placed @ 90%, followed by slabs going down till 15% for an employee of the lowest grade.

This would not only bring standardisation but also kill the cut-off date chaos. This would also simplify the issue for all times to come with very minor adjustments. The govt has already donned the simplification glove by dispensing with the 33 years’ requirement for earning a full pension and abolishing the system of weightages by simply granting full pension on completion of 20 years, it is time to go a step further. The proposed percentage slabs can be decided by using the law of averages and empirically adapting data from all previous 5 Pay Commissions with a little tact here and there. Parity would be inbuilt in the system and relative disproportionate increase or decrease with reference to various grades and ranks would remain curtailed. The system can be implemented for all central govt employees with an added MSP fitment for defence personnel.

I would love to hear from our experts on the subject.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

15 years enrolled service is equated with Graduation, and the riders thereon

The Govt of India, in the year 1986, had notified a very important stipulation for defence personnel. If a solider, sailor or air-warrior serves for 15 years in the forces, he is equated with a graduate on the civil side vide this notification of the Govt of India, provided he is a matriculate or holds the Indian Army Special Certificate of Education (or the naval or air force equivalent).

This equation however comes with some riders, which, as persistent queries on the subject show, are not particularly well known amongst the veteran community.

Firstly, 15 years of service in the forces shall be considered equivalent to Graduation only for the purposes of vacancies in ‘Group – C’ appointments. Secondly, this stipulation shall only be applicable to vacancies which do not involve technical expertise and if such vacancies involve work of technical nature, then the competent authority can still recruit such veterans if satisfied that the veteran concerned shall be able to perform such duties after a course of a short duration. Thirdly, an appointing authority may consider the Indian Army Class-I Examination equivalent to Matriculation at his/her discretion.

Another very important stipulation in the ibid notification is that the competent authority can lower the general standards of recruitment for veterans if sufficient number of veterans are not available.

Friday, November 6, 2009

House Allotment Rules in Delhi

Officers, especially those on deputation to other organisations in Delhi, have intermittently sought information about their entitlement to the scale of accommodation in the Capital.

House allotment in Delhi is determined by ‘The Allotment of Government Residences (General Pool in Delhi) Rules, 1963’, which were recently amended in Feb 2009 to incorporate entitlement in accordance with the new 6th CPC scales.

The said Rules can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

These rules are controlled by the Ministry of Urban Development, Govt of India.

House allotment is determined as per the scale of pay. Officers of the rank of Lt Col are at a confusing juncture since there is no direct equivalent of the said rank on the civil side now since the scale is sandwiched between a Deputy Secretary to Govt of India (PB-3 / GP 7600) and Director to Govt of India (PB-4 / GP 8700).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When would the litigious cycle end ?

I have pointed out this concern at various fora and The Tribune’ covers the issue today.

Does not help anyone but lawyers. Time to get rid of this gratuitous burden on the system.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Travel by Private Airlines where Govt bears the expenditure

As you may have perused in the comments section of one of the recent blogposts, the travel restriction by ‘Air India’ for Central Govt employees is not absolute in nature.

Don’t fret in case the national or international destination is not served by Air India or if due to any other reason or due to non-availability, travel by Air India is not feasible.

In cases like the above, a fax may be sent to the office of the dealing Joint Secretary to Govt of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation (011-24655839) with details as to why travel by Air India is not possible. If approved, the permission is then faxed back by the office within a day. His telephone number is 011-24610386.

The above facility may only be used in a dire situation and not as a routine. Please also do not flood the telephone lines with mundane queries, the doubts may be clarified in advance before calling by viewing and downloading the authority for the above. The orders are applicable to all Central Govt employees serving in all departments and ministries under the Govt of India including the defence services.

Wish our very own accounts and other allied establishments could take a cue from the reduction of red-tapism in Ministries under the Govt of India.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Q & A (6)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

Staff at Canara Bank has stated that they have not received any government orders for revising war injury disability pension in respect 100 percent disability on percentage basis for pre-2006 retirees. They continue to pay on fixed rate. Can you throw some light on this aspect ? (Col V Swarup)

As per the directions of the report of the Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary, the MoD is to examine this issue by constituting a sub-committee and pass appropriate orders, which is likely to take some time. Your bank is correct in saying so. However, the PCDA (P) has already issued a circular revising the disability and war injury pension of pre and post-2006 retirees as per the current stipulation in vogue.

Can information be sought from the CDA (O) under the RTI Act ? Whom should we address the RTI application ? What is the equivalent rank of Accounts Officer in CDA ? (Sekhar)

Of course information can be sought under the RTI Act. Send the application to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), office of CDA (O). An Accounts Officer of the Defence Accounts Department is a JCO level officer.

Can civilian family members of deceased defence personnel approach the AFT for relief related to family pension or is it (the AFT) only valid for serving and retired personnel. (Mrs Shanti Devi)

Yes. Family members can approach the AFT. According to Section 2 (2) of the AFT Act, all dependants, heirs and successors of defence personnel can approach the AFT for relief related to service matters.

Once the AFTs start functioning, will the jurisdiction of the High Courts be totally barred ? (ABC)

No. The AFT shall only deal with specific issues which are mentioned in the AFT Act. For matters not covered by the Act, the Hon’ble Courts of competent jurisdiction shall continue to exercise authority.

When would the PCDA(P) issue corrigendum PPOs for pre-2006 retirees ? I still have not received my revised Corrigendum PPO.

The PCDA(P) would not be issuing corrigenda to the already issued PPOs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

LTC Journey on own car and hired taxi permitted in cases of disability / handicap

Thanks also to Mr BP Singh for sending this in.

The Govt of India has relaxed rules on the subject. While earlier, LTC journeys were only permitted on Govt run transport, central govt servants shall now be able to use their own car or a hired taxi in case of physical handicap or disability of self or any of the dependants.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pay in original Pay Band to be protected on voluntary shift to a lower post : Govt of India

This should come as a relief to officers who opt for moving to a lower post on their own volition.

Earlier, the pay of officers shifting to lower posts in terms of FR 15 (a) was restricted to the higher end of the scale of the new (lower) post even in cases where the said higher end happened to be lower than the pay drawn by such officers in their original scales. On promulgation of running pay bands with Grade Pay after the 6th CPC, there was utter chaos in the system especially for officers opting for lower posts which had a lower pay band, for example officers in PB-4 opting for lower posts in PB-3.

The govt has finally issued orders regulating the said problem. According to orders issued on 21 October 2009 (with effect from 01 January 2006), the original pay of such officers shall remain protected, however the Grade Pay admissible would be as per the new (lower) post.

The letter in question lays down the following :

“…the pay in the pay band of the Government servant will be fixed at a stage equal to the pay in the pay band drawn by him prior to his appointment against the lower post. However, he will be granted grade pay of lower post. Further, in all cases, he will continue to draw his increments based on his pay in the pay band +grade pay (lower).”

The complete letter can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

There may be similar situations in govt organisations where exact or ‘to the point’ rulings or decisions of the DoPT or the cadre controlling agency may not be available, for example shifting of senior officers on deputation followed by absorption in parallel organisations, fresh appointments made on the basis of earlier experience in higher posts etc. The spirit of the ibid DoPT guideline may be invoked to deal with such situations too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A fauji feather in the RTI Cap !!!

A few months ago, I had published this blogpost about a retired General of the Sappers.

I would have to do it again !!!

Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) is the organisation that has instituted the National RTI Awards. The Foundation was set up on 19 December 2006 by Magsaysay Award Arvind Kejirwal, Journalist Manish Sisodia and TV producer / writer Abhinandan Sekhri, in their own words to ‘ensure that our society becomes more inclusive and that real power rests with the common citizens of India’.

The organisation is definitely on its way to achieving its aim, and, in a bold endeavour, has published its scientifically and empirically collected first round of data in the form of a report which can be accessed by clicking here.

What should make us happy is the fact that Lt Gen P K Grover, State Information Commissioner, Punjab, has been listed as one of the best Information Commissioners in the country and the Punjab State Information Commission as one of the best Commissions.

Amongst others, the jury of the Awards shall include Justice J S Verma, Mr J M Lyngdoh, Mr Fali S Nariman, Mr Narayana Murthy and Mr Prannoy Roy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The mother of all compendiums !!!

Is it ‘compendiums’ or ‘compendia’ ? Experts on the Queen’s language may please enlighten ! Or perhaps I should just ask my wife :-)

Veterans keep writing in to know about various welfare schemes concerning them initiated by the Central Govt in general and Kendriya Sainik Board in particular.

The Kendriya Sainik Board has a well researched policy book on most of the schemes related to veterans and their families. The said compendium also contains broad guidelines issued to the State Governments from time to time on the subject of various issues concerning retired personnel and family members.

You may download the compendium by clicking here. I must caution you however that at almost 350 pages and 5 MB, it’s a pretty heavy file, hence patience would come handy !!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Admiral Mehta to be High Commissioner to New Zealand : Official announcement soon

If you remember what I said back in the day on this blog - the rift between our ex-Naval Chief and the Government was a creation of a (very small) section of the media and an imaginary yield of some very fertile minds. This and this would remind us of the time.

Now is the time to put all rumours to rest, because Admiral Sureesh Mehta is going to be the next HighCom to Kiwiland. An official announcement would most probably be made very soon.

OK now everybody, ‘Salute the Soldier’. :-)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Govt of India enhances pension of Pakistani Army pensioners receiving pension on behalf of Pak Govt and Burmese Army pensioners / family pensioners

Yes, people may not be aware of this but the Govt of India (on behalf of the Pak Govt) pays pension to displaced Pak Army pensioners who are Indian citizens and settled here. Our Govt also pays pension to Burmese military pensioners and family pensioners. This pension is technically known as ad-hoc ex-gratia allowance.

Consequent to the recommendations of the 6th CPC, the Govt of India has increased this allowance to Rs 3500/- per month to armed forces pensioners and family pensioners from Pakistan and Burma. Payment of Dearness Relief would be over and above this amount.

In another progressive move to help out Burmese pensioners, the Govt of India has tweaked its policy on the subject to remove some hardships. The Govt of India pays the difference between the minimum pension amount applicable in India and the amount paid by the Myanmar Govt. The payment of pension to Burmese pensioners by Govt of India is based on the pension rules in vogue in Burma which provide that family pension is only to be paid for a period of 10 years from the date of death of the employee / pensioner or till the date the deceased would have attained the age of 65, whichever is earlier. The Govt of India has now decided not to discontinue family pension as is provided under the Myanmarese rules and the extra burden would be absorbed by Govt of India.

Orders to the effect can be accessed by clicking here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


"There was never a good war or a bad peace." - Benjamin Franklin

Happy Diwali, but please remember those we lost....

(Thanks to www.2funks.com for the actual image from a war zone)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Repeated queries on Children Education Allowance (CEA) and clarification by the Govt thereon

There remain certain grey areas amongst the general populace regarding the applicability and modalities of Children Education Allowance.

Most of the common queries on the issue were answered way back in November 2008 by the DoPT through a formal office memorandum which can be accessed by clicking here.

Any other interpretation on Children Education Allowance has no sanctity in the eyes of the Government of India.

An interesting query on the subject was forwarded to me by a civil central govt officer – Whether CEA would be applicable to more than two children if twins are born after the first child ? The answer is Yes and even this query is replied to in the ibid Govt OM. And yes, officers on Study Leave are also entitled to claim CEA.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Telephone re-imbursement to Central Govt Officers : Clarifications

As most would be aware, officers with GP 7600 and above (Dy Secy to Govt of India level and higher) are entitled to telephone re-imbursement of residential phones vide directions of Ministry of Finance which are applicable to all central govt employees, ministries and departments. The said facility is also available in the Defence Services to officers above the rank of Lt Col (GP 8000) since there is no rank with a GP of 7600 in the defence services.

There has been utter confusion on the issue. Some compounded by the fact that lower level accountants in many ministries and departments are known to create needless impediments by squeezing out negative and absurd interpretation of govt orders on the subject. To clear such air, the Govt, in 2007, had issued a clarification on some very pertinent queries on the same, which alongwith the main letter, can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Most important out of these clarifications would be the one at Serial No 9 which in effect says that such re-imbursement can be claimed for a private mobile phone in addition to the official tele connection and the one at Serial No 18 which authorises Mobile and Broad-Band alongwith the regular connection. Also, 25% of other Group A level officers, that is, Lieuts, Capts and Majors on the military side, are authorised Rs 800/- monthly disbursement to this effect. Now please do not ask me how this 25% is to be calculated, I have no clue !!!. If someone has an idea on this, please share it with all of us.

Entitled personnel should make optimum use of this facility provided by the Govt of India.

Do not send me individual mails on this. Please share your thoughts as comments on the blog post through which a discussion can be better initiated.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where rules provide for approval, voluntary retirement cannot be claimed as a matter of right : Supreme Court

This may come as gloomy news for those seeking ‘voluntary’ or ‘pre-mature’ retirement as a matter of right.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that where rules specifically provide for approval of request of voluntary retirement by a particular (competent) authority, then such retirement cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The Hon’ble Supreme Court rendered this decision while adjudicating a case involving an employee of Air India.

The ruling is in consonance with earlier law laid down by the higher judiciary on the subject. Even prior to the latest ruling, it had been consistently ruled by Hon’ble Courts that where rules provided discretion of the authorities in grant of voluntary retirement, it (retirement) could not be claimed as a matter of right. Of course, it has also been held time and again that such discretion cannot be exercised arbitrarily or discriminately by the concerned authorities and the ‘Right to Equality’ can also not be infringed in this regard.

More can be seen on the ruling by clicking here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Full Pay and Allowances for the entire period of hospitalisation : Orders issued by MoD

In another welcome move, the MoD has issued orders authorising full pay and allowances for the entire period of hospitalisation of defence officers.

Full pay shall also be granted to such officers while on sick leave (even if the period of leave is more than 6 months).

The orders have been retrospectively implemented with effect from September 2008.

The same may be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Disability Pension on Voluntary Retirement : Orders issued by MoD

I’m back.

As regular readers may be aware, there was a bar on grant of disability pension on voluntary retirement for personnel of the three services. The Hon’ble Courts had however time and again held that disability pension could not be denied to voluntary retirees. The services had also been taking up the issue but the rules were nonetheless not amended, till now that is.

Acting on the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission and in line with decisions of the Hon’ble Courts, the Ministry of Defence has notified disability pension for voluntary retirees. The caveat however is that the new stipulation has only been made applicable to personnel who retired after 01 Jan 2006, though the Hon’ble Courts have granted this relief to all affected personnel irrespective of the date of retirement.

The letter on the subject can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

I may not be able to reply to all emails received by me during the period of my absence, please bear with me. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Q & A (5)

(Note : Moderation of comments would be slow for a few days during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

I served in the Army for 12 years and took premature retirement on compassionate grounds in 2004. Please inform me about the facilities available to me as an ex-serviceman. (V Rawat)

You are not entitled to the status of ex-serviceman as per Govt of India guidelines. Post-1987, broadly speaking, only those persons are termed ‘ex-servicemen’ who retire with a pension or are released on completion of terms of engagement. You may access the definition of ‘ex-serviceman’ as per year of retirement by clicking here.

I was awarded Vayu Sena Medal during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. I am in receipt of monetary benefit for the Gallantry award alongwith my monthly pension from the DPDO. I came to know that vide provisions of IT Act Sec 10 (18), Gallantry Awardees (including Vayu Sena Medal) are exempted from paying income tax on pension. I have been filing tax returns regularly. My query is that what is the procedure to inform the IT dept about the IT exemption for me. Other than just writing a letter to the ITO, is there any certificate to be produced to the ITO. If so, who is the authority empowered to issue such certificate. (Gp Capt Menon)

Your CA would be able to answer that better. However you need not attach any certificate alongwith your returns as far as I know and you can simply produce a copy of your citation in case demanded by the IT department at any time. You may just mention the relevant section of the IT Act under which the exemption is available to you.

Do I need to attach a fee of Rs 10/- while appealing to an Appellate authority in my district under the RTI Act ? (Col ABC)

No, there is no provision of any fee under the Act for filing appeals.

What is the rough military equivalent of a District Superintendent of Police or Senior Superintendent of Police ?

Generally, officers of the Senior Time Scale (GP 6600) or Junior Adm Grade (GP 7600) are placed as Police chiefs of districts. In case of the officer is of the STS, then post-6th CPC he or she is equivalent to a Major and if the officer if of the JAG then he or she is senior to a Maj but junior to a Lt Col.

The minimum pension / family pension used to be Rs 1275/- during the 5th CPC, has a new figure been notified ? If yes then what is the new figure ? My mother is still being paid a family pension of Rs 1275/- . (Ram Kumar)

The new minimum pension is Rs 3500/- per month plus the applicable DA. You may write to your mother’s Pension Disbursing Agency (PDA) for enhancement to 6th CPC rates.

(Posted by Navjosh Singh during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Toll exemption for gallantry awardees

(Note : Comment moderation would be slow for a few days during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

As regular readers may be aware, toll exemption is only available to serving personnel and their private vehicles on all bridges and roads in India. This exemption is not available to retired personnel.

However the Govt of India, as a goodwill gesture, has granted toll exemption to all retired gallantry awardees. This is only restricted to National Highways over which the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways exercises jurisdiction.

Readers have written in to seek a copy of the notification which provides this exemption, the same can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

(Posted by Navjosh Singh during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Disparity in disability pension between Officer Cadets and Recruits

(Note : Comment moderation would be slow for a few days during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Our officer cadets who are boarded out with a disability attributable to, or aggravated by military service are getting a raw deal.

Such cadets in all military academies are entitled to only Rs 1275/- per month as a disability ex-gratia (likely to be notified @ Rs 3500/- per month soon). Moreover this amount is not categorised as ‘disability pension’ and such cadets are not entitled to the status of ‘ex-serviceman’, ECHS or any other military facility which is granted to retired or released officers.

On the other hand, a recruit who may get injured on the first day of training is entitled to proper ‘disability pension’ alongwith the status of ‘ex-serviceman’, ECHS and all facilities that are available to released Jawans.

A hypothetical comparison of an officer cadet and a recruit for 100 % disability is as follows :

Officer Cadet
Pay Scale : Regular scale of Rs 15600 Basic + Rs 5400 Grade Pay without MSP

Monthly Ex-Gratia on being boarded out with a disability attributable to or aggravagted by service : Rs 3500/- per month

Pay Scale : Regular Scale of Sepoy

Monthly Disability Pension : Rs 4600 Service Element + Rs 3100 Disability Element + Rs 3000 Constant Attendant Allowance

An anomaly which needs to be addressed at the earliest.

(Posted by Navjosh Singh during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Q & A (4)

(Note : Comment moderation would be slow during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

Can information be sought from Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) under RTI act? If the answer is in affirmative, then whom is the application to be addressed ? There are no details about PIO on their website. (Ardy)

No, the Central Information Commission has already held that AWHO is not under the purview of the RTI Act.

Previous Rail Minister Laloo ji during his last budget speech had announced travel concession also on Rajdhani / Shatabadi trains for the holders of Gallantry Awards Railway Passes, however the DRM Offices have not yet received any official communication to this effect. Can you give us some update. (Lt Col Choudhary)

You may seek status of the same from the Railway Board under the RTI Act.

None of the pensioners in SBI Subroto Park are being paid the new pension asper 6th CPC. They are still getting pre-6th CPC pension.Is there anything that can be done short of going to court? (Wg Cdr Agrawal)

Send a complaint to their Head Branch with a copy to the PCDA(P) Allahabad. Wait for 15 days and complain to the Banking Ombudsman. The details are available on the RBI website.

Is there any rule that Service personnel are exempted from paying property tax on one house owned by them? At Secunderabad this rule is applicable for houses in the Municipal limits but for houses in the Cantonment area (Secunderabad Cantonment Board) this exemption is not being granted. Please can you clarify on this? (XYZ)

Simple, make a trip to the Cantonment Board and meet the Cantt Executive Officer (CEO), ask him or her the actual position on the issue.

Please let me know the Section of the Income Tax Act under which the IT exemption for disability pension is granted as the same is required by the IT Department. (Lt Col M Chowdhury)

The exemption on disability pension was initially granted under a notification issued in the year 1929 by the IT Department which was issued much prior to the passing of the IT Tax. The same was later clarified through a circular of the Central Board of Direct Taxes in 2001 which can be accessed on this blog. The pre-existing notification of 1929 is still in force notwithstanding the IT Act and the ibid circular can be quoted to claim exemption.

(Posted by Navjosh Singh during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Degradation of Military status : PSU Style

(Note : Comment moderation would be slow for a few days during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Our regular visitor, Aditya, points this out.

Now this has percolated down to the PSUs. Certain Public Sector Undertakings are seeking Brigadiers for posts meant for civil officers with a Grade Pay of 8700 (Erstwhile scale of Rs 14300-18300). Needless to say, even after the dilution by the 6th CPC, it is Colonels who have been granted the GP of Rs 8700 as is the case with Directors to Govt of India.

One of such advertisements can be accessed by clicking here.

Interestingly, the Govt of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security seeks officers of the rank of Major for an appointment of the same level.

Maybe it is time for the Services to point this out. This has already been discussed extensively on this blog @ this post, and this one here.

A table of equivalence of appointments after the 6th CPC can be accessed by clicking here.

(Posted by Navjosh Singh during the absence of Maj Navdeep Singh)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Change in promotion criterion for LMC officers

The MS Branch has rationalised the policy for promotion to the ranks of Col and above in case of LMC officers. The policy has been effected with retrospective effect from Nov 2005.

There has been a change in the criterion of promotion vis-à-vis medical category and employability management index for acting promotion to the ranks of Colonel and above which should be encouraging for many affected officers.

Such affected officers may like to peruse this amended policy issued in the last week of August 2009.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Now here comes a surprising twist in the chor-sipahi saga

In a candid admission before an august gathering, the Director CBI, Mr Ashwani Kumar, a career Police officer, stated that in view of the nexus between drug lords and the police, he was in favour of the defence forces taking on the drug mafia since the police had failed in the task. He also passed some other not-so-kind remarks about our police and administrative officers.

Mr Kumar clarified that he was speaking from the heart. Amongst others, the gathering consisted of a Supreme Court Judge and the Chief Justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court.

Though the already stretched defence forces would be the last to feel good about this thought process, the story can be accessed by clicking here. (Only a part of the story now remains visible on HT's e-edition)

Note : I would like to re-assure those who have rued about the closure of the chat-box or strict moderation of comments. Your thoughts would not be ‘policed’ but if harsh adjectives are used against any person by name or appointment especially by anonymous posters, then such comments shall not be made visible for public viewing. There is no need to be touchy about this since as the owner of this blog, I have a moral duty to protect the dignity of individuals who otherwise do not have means of replying back or defending themselves. It is easy for some to hide behind the curtain of anonymity but that is not how things work in an open medium. There is also a need to ensure that the military community is not projected in bad light. The discussions on the chat box had reached a nadir, more than meaningful exchange of thoughts it had turned out to be a community bashing system for many – Army Vs IAS, Corps of Engineers Vs IDSE, Retired Vs Serving, Seniors Vs Juniors and pathetically even Jawans Vs Officers. Cribbing and fighting was not what the chat box was meant for. Rest assured, it would pop up again at the opportune time. It is upto you when.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cool ! Teachers in Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) to move into Pay Band-4 after three years of service

Firstly, do not get me wrong. In my (personal and humble) opinion, teachers, and more so teachers of our world-renowned institutes deserve the finest.

The Ministry of HRD, after ‘careful consideration’ of representations (read protests) received from teachers of CFTIs in pursuance of notification of their new scales on 18 August 2009, has decided the following on 16 September 2009 :-

“Assistant Professors in IITs, IISc Bangalore, IIMs, NlTlE Mumbai and IISERs on completion of 3 vears of service shall move to Pay Band of Rs 37400-67000 (PB 4) with an Academic Grade Pay (AGP) of Rs 9000”

So where does this leave the others ? The following is the progression into Pay Band-4 for other services usually in the limelight :

The Defence Services : 13 Years

The Indian Administrative and other All India Services : 13 Years

University Teachers : 12-14 years depending upon qualification

Central Govt Doctors under the Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme (DACP) : 13 Years

Central Govt Medical Specialists under the Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme (DACP) : 06 Years

Teachers of CFTIs : 03 Years

Needless to say, we need the best for the best such as the IITs and IIMs, but would it be fair to allow them to leave behind their other University counterparts by 9 to 11 Years on the basis of ‘protests’ ? A better way out would have been to completely de-link the pay of CFTI staff from the regular scales of others. Hence, instead of Pay Bands on the Central pattern (which naturally encourage comparison with other services), there could have been a totally separate pay-structure, the best in the market and probably corporatised.

Less than a month is what it took the govt to re-notify these revised scales. The notification can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Very Important : Last opportunity for commutation of additional pension for defence personnel who retired between 01-01-2006 and 02-09-2008

Personnel who retired between 01 Jan 2006 and 02 Sept 2008 had availed their commutation of pension at old rates and at the old percentage. The Sixth Central Pay Commission had enhanced the percentage of commutable value to 50%. As a result, some personnel who had retired prior to the announcement of the acceptance of the 6th CPC had gone home with a commutation value at 5th CPC rates and at a lesser percentage. The Govt had then granted an option to such retirees to opt for the new rates if they so desired. Due to lack of circulation of this option, coupled with lack of knowledge of the issue, many did not exercise the same. The problem was compounded by the fact that no cut-off date or last date for exercising the option was mentioned in the letter issued by the Govt of India.

The Ministry of Defence has now decided that the said option for additional commutation may be exercised by such left out retired personnel by 10 October 2009. Those who do not exercise the option by 10-10-2009 would be deemed to have refused the additional commutation.

The entire circular of PCDA(P) on the issue alongwith the Govt letter dated 10-09-2009 on the subject can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Please spread the word since there shall be no separate communication to defence personnel on the issue.

The earlier letter dated 12-11-2008 detailing the modalities of commutation after the 6th CPC can be accessed by clicking here. (Please refer to Para 9.3 of this)

The option certificates and corrigendum of the above mentioned letter dated 12-11-2008 can be accessed by clicking here.

Once again the same request : Please do not email me individual queries or doubts on calculations on the above, my profession does not allow me the luxury of such time. You are most welcome to post your queries / doubts as comments to this post. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Q & A (3)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

Is there any private bank in India where a retired officer can open a Pension account? (Col Malhotra)

Yes, one can open both pay and pension accounts in private banks. Gone are the days of monopoly of nationalised banks in this regard.

This is in reference to your RTI application filed for Travel Pass to SM (Gallantry). What is the Railway Ministry’s take on this ? (ABC)

Ms Mamata Banerjee has been apprised of the issue. The Services have also taken up the same with the Railway Ministry. Will update you on the outcome.

When the arrears of the sixth Pay commission were given, all those promoted between 01 Jan 06 and 31 Aug 08 were given 2 options. Option 1 fixes the increment from 01 Jul and Option 2 fixes the increment from the date of promotion. However, on exercise of Option 2, the arrears are not being given from 01 Jan 06 to the date of promotion when the new pay is fixed. This is not understood since all those who have got their promotion after Sep 08 are exercising Option 2 and have also got the full arrears of the previous rank. Is this being followed in the other central govt organisations also, or is this discriminatory interpretation only for the Armed Forces? (Wg Cdr AR)

The same is the case with all central govt employees.

Can a Gallantry Award Holder get the annual annuity grant from his present State (UP) if he had initially received a lump sum grant for the same from another state earlier (Haryana) in 1973 and not received any annual annuity grant from any state so far. (XYZ)

Though it is upto the State to follow a policy in this regard, logically you can avail the benefit from only one State.

Is the inclusion of disabled sibling in the definition of ‘family’ applicable only to family pension or does it apply for medical treatment, Form D and warrants, LTC etc too ? (Col R K Singh)

It is only applicable for ‘family pension’ as of now.

Are armed forces personnel exempted from paying ‘Parking Fees’ also as is the case with payment of toll taxes on highways?

Now don’t take it too far :-) You are very well supposed to pay parking fee as any other law abiding citizen of the country. The toll exemption law is to cater for frequent movements of defence personnel and their families all over the country and is supported by a legislative Act. It is not a sop or a benefit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Separate instructions by PCDA(P) for 80+ defence pensioners / family pensioners / casualty award pensioners

While instructions were issued by the Govt of India, Department of Pensions, for civilian pensioners, the same were awaited for defence pensioners of all categories.

Some readers (and I’m particularly referring here to a longish mail received by me on the subject from a senior retired veteran) had remarked that there was no use of such instructions or provisioning of age proof since the date of birth is already mentioned in the PPO and/or other discharge documents and that this is just a way of harassing veterans. This is however incorrect. There are many cases where the date of birth and age proof is not available. This is particularly true in cases of WWII Veterans and their families and also reservists and others who were discharged on reduction of military establishment. Anyway, cynicism today is a way of life and there is no escape from it, but in my personal opinion, it does not augur well to censure every single step initiated by the govt for making procedures easier for pensioners. Obviously if there is a mention of the date of birth or age in the documents, there is no requirement of producing any such proof and neither would the Pension Disbursing Authority ask for the same, but if it is not so mentioned then it is the Govt’s duty to put out a procedure in black and white for such rare cases and that is what has been done, and in a pretty rudimentary and simple way at that.

More than the PCDA(P) or the banks, it is the bounden duty of all of us to spread the word and find out if our old pensioners / family pensioners / casualty award pensioners are receiving pension in accordance with the correct entitlement. Also it is an obligation of our Record Offices to look into their files and ensure that the dues are flowing out accurately to old pensioners. How well this obligation is discharged depends on us and not on external agencies.

The instructions for defence pensioners can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Non-revision of pension of post-2006 retirees : Orders of the Hon’ble High Court

Regular readers may remember that the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court had issued a notice of motion to the PCDA(P) and other authorities for not revising the pension of post-06 retirees even though the orders to the effect were issued in November 2008. A civil writ petition in this regard was filed by Brig P S Sanghera, a retired officer of the Sappers. The Ministry of Defence had issued orders for revising the pensions of pre-1-1-06 retirees on 11 Nov 2008 and post 1-1-06 retirees on 12 Nov 2008. Though the pensions of pre-06 pensioners were revised in accordance with the new 6th CPC scales immediately thereafter, many post-06 retirees were (are) still being released pensions at 5th CPC scales. Even other retiral benefits of post-06 retirees had not been configured and released in accordance with the new scales. Certain officers who retired after 01 January 2006 had pegged their dues from the PCDA (P) at more than Rs 30 lacs.

The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court has finally decided the issue and directed the PCDA(P) vide a concise, brief and to-the-point order, to release the revised pensionary benefits within a period of 3 months. The orders are however individually (and not universally) applicable. The decision of the Hon’ble Court can be downloaded and accessed by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yellow journalism at its worst

This is truly disgusting. Whereas responsible media houses in both India and Pakistan have played a great role in keeping tempers low and ensuring dissemination of balanced views in the sub-continent, some rouge elements are hell bent upon creating mischief by spreading utterly nauseating information.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, in a truly progressive and evolved approach, has raised a women battalion of the BSF who would be guarding the International Border shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. People familiar with the area would know that frisking of women crossing over the fence to work in agricultural fields was a major problem for the BSF which has been addressed by this move.

However the Daily Mail, a Pakistani newspaper, has published this repulsive and sickening article on its front page which should surely make heads hang in shame. Besides terming these brave ladies as sex-workers, the paper has laughably attributed the move to the Army and RAW and also stated that they are meant for deployment with the Army’s Northern Command.

Though by a private publication, it would only be proper for our Press Council to send across a note to the parallel authority across the border and request them to reign in such irresponsible and sexist reporting. A similar note of protest by our MEA should also be more than called for.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The ‘Why’ of it !

Certain public authorities these days are rejecting RTI queries wherein RTI applicants seek information in a ‘questioning’ tone or seek justification or opinion of the concerned public authority on a particular issue. The matter got even more complicated after issuance of this circular on the subject by the DoPT.

This approach of PIOs may not be entirely correct. While to an extent it is true that justification or opinion cannot be sought from a decision making authority since a public authority who may have acted on an issue is not supposed to provide information on what went in his / her mind while taking the said decision, but on the other side, if any such opinion or justification or reason has been recorded on paper or on file, then the public authority is totally duty-bound to disclose such opinion / justification / reason. To make matters easier for the public, the RTI Act, apart from providing a right to seek information, also lays down that every public authority shall give reasons for each administrative or quasi-judicial decision taken by it. Unknown to many, this has been explicitly laid down in Section 4 (1) (d) of the Act. Hence, it is the duty of each public authority to record reasons for every action taken by it and it is well within the statute to seek these reasons or opinions or justifications for such actions.

To take an example, a person seeks information to the following effect from a Municipal Corporation :

“Why did you cut down 6 trees in Lane 123 in Sector ABC ?”

To this, in case the reason or justification or opinion has been placed on file authorising the removal of the trees, the Public authority is not correct in replying that it is not bound to answer ‘Why’ or to provide justification for the same. If the answer to the question ‘Why’ is recorded or reduced to writing or available anywhere on the file or on the record, then the public authority is totally duty-bound to provide a copy of the same to the applicant. And it is the bounden duty of the public authority under Section 4 (1) (d) to anyway record reasons for any such action. To avoid such leverage to public authorities taking the road opposite to transparency, instead of seeking information as to ‘why’ a particular action was taken, it is better to re-phrase such a query in the following terms :

“Please provide me a copy of the complete file on which the decision was taken to cut down 6 trees in Lane 123 in Sector ABC”

In short, justification, opinion or reason whenever available anywhere on paper or reduced in writing, has to be provided under the RTI Act, and as it is, all public authorities are now supposed to reduce these in writing. A decision on similar lines by the Central Information Commission can be accessed here.

Of course what went on in a particular authority’s mind cannot be provided under the RTI Act. For example, if a quasi-judicial authority takes a decision to impose fine on a tax-defaulter by way of a judicial order, one cannot question that authority as to ‘why’ he or she took the decision in question. The application of mind on a particular issue is not available as physical information and the reasons or justifications would be accessible in the form of the decision rendered by that particular authority which would already be available in the public domain.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hearing and Speech clinic offers military discount to faujis and families

Ritu Chaudhary, a highly experienced Audiologist and Speech Pathologist (Formerly with PGI Chandigarh) with more than 15 years of experience, offers upto 15% discount on selected models of hearing aids for defence personnel and their families at her clinic.

All advanced hearing tests and methods of speech therapy are available at the clinic which is also fully equipped with latest state-of-the-art computerised equipment for diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing loss.

Readers located in North India may want to make use of this facility. Ritu Chaudhary’s Hearing and Speech Clinic is located at:

SCO 65, First Floor, Sector 20-C (Tribune Road)
Chandigarh -160020

Tel: 91-172-5009345, 9855751135
Web Site: http://www.hearingandspeech.in/
Email: info@hearingandspeech.in

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Now for some progress

It’s a mixed bag out there. Well you saw regression, now experience some progress.

Though officers posted around the capital may be aware of this, the ADG Adm and Coord in a progressively out of the box solution, has tied up with the Taj on Sardar Patel Marg for accommodation for Lieutenant Colonels and above. Lt Cols to Brigs can stay @ Rs 3000/- per night which is within the official entitlement and which would include :

- Buffet Breakfast
- Use of Fitness centre, swimming pool & Jacuzzi.
- Ironing one pair of uniforms free
- One litre mineral water free per day
- Daily newspaper
- Fruit and Chocolate basket in each room
- Welcome drink
- Tea and Coffee in each room
- Electronic safe in each room
- TV with multiple channels

The Taj Reception can be contacted for more details on the above at 011- 26110202

This has already been circulated vide a letter issued on 15 August 2009. The arrangement as of now is institutional and only for the zamini fauj but I think on a personal level the other services and ranks can follow suit as long as they meet the entitlement criterion of the govt. Before naysayers jump to any conclusion, the reason why ranks below Lt Cols have not been included is that rates below Rs 3000 per night are not viable to the Taj group.

Wish for more respectable and intelligent solutions like the above.

Thanks to all those who have sent this in. Anybody who may require a copy of the letter may send me an email.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Separate instructions issued today for release of balance of arrears of pension in respect of retired defence personnel

The PCDA(P) has issued a separate circular today to all banks directing them to release the balance 60% arrears in respect of pensioners of the three defence services.

The Ministry of Defence had issued the sanction letter immediately (28 Aug 09) on receipt of instructions from the Finance Ministry and the Department of Pensions.

Pensioners may contact their Pension Disbursing Agencies (PDAs) for release of the balance arrears in case of any problem in this regard.

Clarification issued for officers promoted to HAG in State cadres who are occupying lower posts at the Centre according to their actual empanelment

As regular readers of the blog may be knowing, at a federal service backdrop, the actual status of All India Service officers is determined by their empanelment at the centre, mostly under the central staffing scheme. Hence you may see Officers of the rank of Secretary to State Govts (SAG) occupying the position of Director to Govt of India at the centre which is actually meant for ‘Selection Grade’ officers which is a grade lower than SAG, Officers of the rank of Principal Secretary to State Govts (HAG) or Financial Commissioners occupying appointments of Joint Secretary to Govt of India and so on. All officers are not empanelled at various senior appointments at the Central Govt level. To amplify, while IAS officers posted as states may achieve SAG at 16 years of service, they would not be posted to SAG level posts at the centre (Joint Secretary to Govt of India) unless empanelled for the same which takes a minimum of 20 years and fulfilment of other criteria.

But what helps out All India Services officers is the ‘next below rule’ by virtue of which their pay is jacked up on a notional basis when their juniors are granted a particular grade in their parent cadres. Hence while an officer with 27 years of service is on deputation to the centre at SAG level, as soon as his juniors pick up the HAG in the State cadre (which may happen in 25 years), the pay of the SAG officer would be jacked up to HAG level though he would technically remain in PB-4 with GP 10,000.

Confusing ? Here is how it would happen : For example, If an IAS officer’s pay fixation in the new HAG (67000-79000) is Rs 73220, on his/her appointment on deputation basis as a Joint Secretary to GoI under the Central Staffing Scheme which is a SAG appointment, his/her basic pay will continue to remain protected @ Rs 73220, out of which Rs 10000 would be treated as Grade Pay and the remaining Rs 63220 as pay in the Pay Band-4. Of course facilities to such affected officers like housing etc would be available as per PB-4 with GP 10000 and not as per HAG. The above example and others depending upon various situations are explained in detail in this letter issued by the Personnel Ministry.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Miscellany strikes again…..

(1) The table of appointments listing the equivalence of military ranks and civil posts as made available on this blog earlier has further been revised. The updated version is available for download by clicking here.

(2) Readers may like to visit this official White House release of the text of Obama’s speech at a Veterans’ convention. Long, but worth a dekko.

(3) Sgt Gavini, a regular on the blog, has initiated his own web-log focussing on issues concerning veterans and the same can be accessed by clicking here.

Thanks !

Friday, August 28, 2009

Q & A (2)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

As per Punjab and Haryana High Court decision discussed on your blog here, the new weightage modalities were made applicable from 1-1-96 instead of 1-1-06 but no pension orders have been issued by govt, what is the current status. (ABC)

The decision of the Hon’ble High Court has been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in an SLP filed by the Central Govt.

One of the accepted recommendation of COS was " (e) Anomalies in other casualty pensionary awards to be deliberated upon by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW) at MoD" Could you tell us as to what is this issue? Does it relate to Disability pension rates anomaly of pre-2006 retirees? (Brig AS Kahlon)

Yes. It deals with placing pre-06 retirees on a percentage based system of disability pension rather than the slab system that has been promulgated for disabled personnel who retired prior to 01 Jan 2006.

What is the latest on 70% pensionary weightage system for PBOR? Is it applicable to pre-06 retirees also. (Justin)

Nothing on this stipulation is available in the form of any commitment in black and white or on paper as of now.

Is toll tax exemption available to retired personnel since I am in possession of an NHAI letter that says so. (Col AS Bajwa)

Absolutely not. Toll exemption is only available to the private vehicles of serving personnel on all roads and bridges in the country. The Govt however, as a goodwill gesture, has extended toll exemption to retired gallantry awardees limited to NHs. The NHAI letter in your possession is fake. For more on this, you may click here to peruse this post. For complete details on the issue of toll exemption, you may see this post here.

Is house tax exempted to defence personnel ?. (Maj Shivani)

‘House Tax’ is not a central subject as per the Constitution of India and the Central Govt cannot pass any directions to States or local authorities on the same. However most of the States and Municipal / local bodies have exempted defence personnel from house and property tax. You may make local queries in your area to know if it is applicable to you.

My pay as a Major has not been fixed despite the fact that I was promoted 8 months ago, nobody seems to have any satisfactory answer to the problem. (Maj T Kumar)

Please see if the complete documents have been forwarded to CDA(O). Also check on the gazette notification on your promotion. The rules on pay on promotion have been simplified lately and you may view this post for the same.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Orders issued for remaining 60% pay and pension arrears

The Ministry of Finance has today issued orders for the release of the balance 60% arrears of pay and the Department of Pensions has issued similar orders for the same percentage of arrears of pension on account of implementation of the 6th CPC recommendations.

With effect from today, the balance arrears can be 'legally' released to central government employees and former employees.


Monday, August 24, 2009


“The way to procure insults is to submit to them: a man meets with no more respect than he exacts” : William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

What can I say about this ?

How often do we hear this thing today about military izzat that is on constant decline on the societal ladder ? And our veterans and serving members alike are quick to point the finger at the bureaucracy. But what about the issues that are directly under our control ?

The world is moving towards an era of transparency, the end of license raaj, RTI, simplification of procedures et al. But still we ourselves ensure at times that we live in an age of regressive approach. Or else why would we let others put into motion such a cumbersome procedure wherein in order to buy cars from CSD serving and retired defence personnel are made to undertake numerous rounds of Agencies, Depot Managers, and, this takes the cake - even tax barriers and excise staff !!!

‘The Tribune’, Chandigarh reports how officers, besides dealing with other documentary red-tapism, have to ‘report’ to the CSD Depot Manager in Ambala Cantt alongwith a representative of the Agency to get their vehicles ‘inspected’. This inspection is also refused unless there are a certain number of cars available on a particular day. Moreover even the days are set when the ‘Manager’ would oblige serving and retired military officers with the ‘inspection’. The Depot Manager then issues a slip which the officers have to carry to the excise staff manning excise barriers for obtaining a stamp on it. To put it shortly, the entire procedure is not only time-consuming and unwieldy but also utterly disgusting, retrograde and humiliating.

Since institutions such as the CSD exist for our welfare, I would request officers posted at Delhi to kindly apprise the concerned section at the AG’s/QMG’s branch about what is happening on ground and to simplify the procedure, and also, if I may put it crudely, immediately stop this nonsense. ‘Adelphi’, Mumbai also needs to be taken in the loop. I’m sure the CSD staff (like always) would come up with a hundred justifications and excuses on this retrograde approach, but please do not buy such explanations !!! The Canteen Stores Department is meant to render services to fauj, not the other way around.

Following is a reproduction of what appeared in the newspaper :

The Tribune
Car through CSD : new system raises officers’ hackles

Our Correspondent
Ambala, August 20

Over 30 serving and retired officers of the Army showed resentment against the recently introduced system for purchasing car through CSD at the CSD depot in Ambala Cantt here.

Earlier, the Army officers had to deposit the amount of the vehicle to be purchased with the CSD depot in Ambala Cantt and the depot issued them the release order. After submitting the release order with the car dealer, the officers got the delivery of the vehicle. As per the new system, after getting the delivery of the vehicle, the army officers will have to report to the depot manger along with the vehicle and a representative of the dealer.

After checking the documents, engine number and chassis number of the vehicle, the depot will issue them a sale deed document and then only the officers will be allowed to drive their car. The Army officers have to face a lot of harassment while completing the formalities of the newly introduced system.

Most of the Army officers, even from Haryana, prefer to purchase vehicles from Chandigarh as the rate of sales tax is 2 per cent less there than in Haryana. Chandigarh does not have any CSD depot that is why the Army officers belonging to Chandigarh generally come to the Ambala CSD depot for purchasing vehicle through the CSD.

Around 35 retired and serving Army officers, including a serving Major from Kargil, went to Chandigarh yesterday to purchase vehicles after getting the release order from the CSD depot, Ambala. The depot issued them a “Rahdari” slip, which they have to get stamped from the sales tax barriers at Dappar (Punjab) and Dhulkot (Haryana).

Col Jaswant Singh (retd), a resident of Chandigarh, said the officials of sales tax barriers detained them for two hours and refused to put stamp on “Rahdari” paper. They had to further stay in the CSD depot for hours to complete the formalities. He said the situation was very humiliating for an Army officer. Other Army officers also expressed annoyance over the new system.

Meanwhile, regional manager of the depot Lakhwinder Singh refused to comment on the matter. According to information, the depot has been facing an acute shortage of officials, which led to delay in the completion of formalities.