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 Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained.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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Army Headquarters clarify that medical facilities to SSCOs and ECOs have not been withdrawn

Well, this should end the controversy perpetrated by some self-styled interpreters in M-Block who brought disrepute to the medical top brass and in a way to the entire services medical set-up by writing to all Commands that SSCOs and ECOs were not entitled to medical facilities in service hospitals.

Earlier, Medical facilities were only available to the following categories of retired defence personnel :

(i) Ex-Service Pensioners

(ii) Families of Ex-Service Pensioners

(iii) Families of deceased personnel drawing pension of some kind

Then in the year 1996, the Ministry of Defence in the name of HE The President of India amended Paragraph 296 (O) of the Regulations of Medical Services Armed Forces (RMSAF, 1983) and directed that the term ‘Ex-Service Pensioners’ shall be replaced by the term ‘Ex-Servicemen’ thus leading to the following entitled categories with effect from 26 Sept 1996 :

(i) Ex-Servicemen covered under the definition of ‘Ex- Serviceman’ issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) from time to time

(ii) Families of Ex-Servicemen

(iii) Families of deceased personnel drawing pension of some kind.

In 1998, an amendment to the existing Army Order on the subject of entitlement was also issued vide AO 08/98 whereby the term ‘ex-service pensioners’ was replaced by the new term ‘ex-servicemen’, needless to say, the AO was issued under the hand and seal of the COAS. The following was explicitly stated in the AO 08/98 :

“AO 10/97 is amended as follows :- (a) The term ‘Ex Service Pensioners wherever used in the AO is replaced with the term ‘Ex Servicemen’.”

However despite the fact that the above mentioned amendments had been carried out more than a decade ago and Regulation 296 (O) RMSAF stood amended, still in blatant contravention of the Presidential sanction, no correction was carried out in the copies of RMSAF available in service medical establishments and the old (unamended) Para 296 (O) in which the word ‘pensioners’ appeared was being quoted to refuse treatment to SSCOs and ECOs who were ex-servicemen but not pensioners. Vague letters were also issued asking MHs to withdraw such facilities from SSCOs and ECOs.

The Army HQ has now clearly stated that such facilities have not been withdrawn and the Secretariats of COAS and AG have also been informed about the same.

It is only hoped that such letters leading to total chaos in the system are not allowed to be floated by functionaries in the M-Block again. It is also hoped that the executing authorities give due regard to Presidential and govt sanctions by proper application of mind rather than to locally issued letters by self-styled interpreters which have no value in the eyes of law.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Unfortunate and unfortunate....

The murderous assault on a Ludhiana Tehsildar, Maj G S Benipal who happens to be an ex-Commissioned Officer, was a deplorable incident which reflects the kind of jungle-raaj being perpetrated by small time politicians. The officer was beaten up and stripped resulting in fractures and injuries on his entire body. The dignity of the officer was violated since he refused to entertain certain unjust demands of local politicians of the ruling party. The upright officer was known to have recently unearthed a fake stamp paper scam too. We shall ensure that these street runners responsible for this incident are brought to book and justice prevails.

But the point I am trying to project through this post is different and in a sense unrelated to this deplorable incident. I personally feel that former officers of the military should not take up below-status jobs with the civil government. And if family or other circumstances force some to join junior appointments, then the usage of the military title before the name should be avoided. For instance, the former Major had joined as a Tehsildar with the Punjab Govt but the public at large would have no inkling that a Tehsildar is junior even to a Lieutenant of the Army in pay and status, ultimately resulting in the incorrect linkage of a Tehsildar with a Major of the Army in the public psyche. The upholding of decorum of the military rank should be our utmost responsibility and we should not let our private requirements or circumstances encumber its izzat.

Comments on this issue and welcome.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Release of retiral benefits at 6th CPC rates for Post-2006 retirees commences

Note : Comment moderation / uploads would be slow for this post. Please bear with me.

As published on this blog earlier, while the pension of pre-06 retirees had been fixed at the new 6th CPC rates in pursuance of govt orders, post-06 retirees were still being paid pensions at 5th CPC rates which technically stand abolished.

It seems that the notice issued in this regard by the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court has had its effect since the PCDA(P) has started releasing revised benefits for post-06 pensioners.

It may be recalled that the delay in release of retiral benefits to post-06 pensioners had led to an incongruous situation wherein personnel who retired during 5th CPC had started receiving pension at 6th CPC rates while personnel retiring during the currency of 6th CPC are receiving pensions at 5th CPC rates.

The govt had issued orders for revision of pre-06 pensioners on 11 Nov 2008 and the same orders for post-06 pensioners were issued a day later on 12 Nov 2008.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Attorney General would aim to reduce Govt vs Citizen litigation

Note : Comment moderation / uploads shall remain slow for a few days. Please bear with me.

A whiff of fresh air. The New Attorney General of India, Ghoolam E Vahanvati, a rock music fan and a lawyer of repute, has stated reduction of govt filed litigation as one of his top KRAs.

As we all know, govt is the biggest litigant in the country. Many-a-times, there are issues which should just not be taken to court, but are, and ultimately result in unnecessary wastage of Court time, govt and private resources. In fact, the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court had recently slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on the Haryana State for filing a ‘frivolous appeal’ against a citizen.

The problem with us is that we treat court matters against a backdrop of upmanship. A citizen getting his predicament addressed through a court results in triggering of a strange form of egotism in govt departments, which without any application of mind, ensure that they take the issue to a higher judicial level, whether they are right or wrong.

This happens in every organisation. A detailed must-read blog on the same problem within the defence establishment can be accessed by clicking here. The problem requires a change in mindset. Legal advisors in various departments need to be briefed that firstly issues that can be addressed in-house should be and citizens & employees should not be forced to approach Hon’ble Courts of Law. Secondly, the govt legal mechanism should be sensitised that their duty is not to ‘win’ cases in Courts but to assist the Hon’ble Courts in arriving at justice, and once justice is rendered, it should not lead to egotism but introspection as to what went wrong in-house.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Take care of your booty !!!

Note : Comment moderation / uploads would continue to be slow for a few days. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Faujis are simpletons indeed.

Through this blog, I would like to share with readers the fact that unscrupulous elements and white-collared criminals have been constantly targetting serving and retired personnel who make good prey. Many of my well known officers are victims of this. The shine of quick money makes some of our serving and retired comrades put their hard earned money in the hands of criminals and thus start never ending visits to Courts and police stations. Of course I cannot impose my thought process on you, but being in the legal field this is just a little friendly advice for all. Stay away from the following :

(1) People or little known companies who promise to multiply your money in a particular period of time

(2) Builders who seek money to build flats and apartments in fancy places (unless the company is well reputed) and offer rental income on the same

(3) Multi-level marketing

Let us remember that there is no way of earning capital but the hard (legal) way. Even if one wants to be adventurous, there are ample opportunities available in the form of mutual funds, govt schemes and the like. If one wants to go in for flats, plots or apartments, then one must only look at properly recognised urban estates approved by the concerned town and country planning / urban planning department.

Don’t get into hassles for the lure of a few greenbacks. Fauj gives you a lot now coupled with a good pension. Live a good, protected, dignified and satisfied life and avoid actions that may lead you to doctors and lawyers :-)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Try this site by an ex-fauji for discounted travel bookings and unique mobile downloads

Note : Moderation / uploads of comments would be a little slow for this post. Bear with me. Thanks.

Please have a look at the site http://www.khuljasim.com/ and wap site http://wap.khuljasim.com/. The site has been developed by an ex-fauji and the focus is on free mobile downloads. Col Dhillon has also tied up with Yatra.com for booking air tickets / hotels and is offering 50% of the generated commission from Yatra to his clients and a good 60% to defence personnel. He is also providing interesting applications on his site, for example, a combined flight schedule of all national airlines in a neat chronological manner, a facility of identifying the location of a missed call in our mobiles etc. He has also indicated that he and his team can take on work to build mobile applications/web sites or other technical work at reasonable rates especially for members of the defence community. We must try his tickets / hotel booking set up and his mobile applications and encourage him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DoPT losing its marbles ??? Asks Information Commissioners to hold hearings collectively and not as separate benches !!!

Well, what could be said about our great officialdom ?. They seem to have crossed all barriers of sanity with this one.

As most RTI users would know, the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions have constituted separate benches for hearing RTI complaints and appeals. Most RTI complaints and appeals are placed for hearing before single benches while contentious issues can also be placed before larger benches. Of course higher the number of benches, higher and better the disposal of RTI cases.

Now the Department of Personnel and Training has come up with this great letter asking the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions to hold hearings collectively with all members in attendance for each case. The DoPT has informed the Commissions that the RTI Act does not contain any clause authorising the Chief Information Commissioners of the Central and State Commissions to constitute benches. In other words, the DoPT wants all members of the Information Commissions (upto 10) to sit collectively and hear and decide every single case in that fashion.

Obviously, this is a direct resultant of the fact that the CIC has time and again pulled up the DoPT for not removing from its website a statement that file notings are exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act. While the CIC and SICs have held in umpteen number of cases that file notings and minute sheets are to be disclosed under the RTI Act, the DoPT guide on its website still states the opposite thereby rightly inviting the ire of the CIC.

While sending such a communication to the Information Commissions, the DoPT has obviously and clearly not gone through the Act, which in Sections 12(4) and 15(4) ordains the following :

The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission shall vest in the Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Central Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act.

As the above would show, the DoPT / any other authority under the Act (which includes the Central and State Governments) has no jurisdiction over the functioning of the Information Commissions and as such the letter issued by the DoPT is patently illegal, misconceived and without jurisdiction.

Besides being without authority, such a communication is also impractical. To take an example, as on date, it takes about 6 to 12 months for cases before the CIC to even get listed with the 8 Information Commissioners hearing RTI cases individually everyday, and if in accordance with the DoPT letter the CIC and SICs start hearing individual cases with all commissioners on board, the delay and the pendency can well be imagined.

The DoPT letter seems like a vengeful joke. It’s like asking the Hon’ble Supreme Court or Hon’ble High Courts to list every single case before one full bench which has all Hon’ble Judges on board. Does it make sense ? Tell the DoPT !!! Let’s hope it was an All Fools Day joke, a few weeks late though.

Zee news reports about the matter here.

Times of India too covers the issue here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) appointments underway : Military Jurisprudence - coming of age ?


Navdeep Singh

“Draconian”, maybe not, “archaic”, perhaps

Many pejorative adjectives have been used to describe the present system of military justice in India, but does it deserve such criticism ?. More than the statutes themselves, the problem perhaps is with the executors, the method of understanding the spirit behind, and the final implementation of the statutory provisions of the Army Act, 1950, Air Force Act, 1952 and Navy Act, 1957. The provisions of these Acts, though oppressive in parts, were never meant to be draconian and do have a number of inbuilt checks and balances, but of course the method of using the best of these is open to debate. So what was wrong with the system that forced the govt to bring in the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 ?, the one line answer echoed in legal corridors would be - ‘lack of an effective appeal’. The same sentiment was reflected by the Supreme Court in the case of Lt Col Prithi Pal Singh Bedi Vs Union of India (1982) where the Court observed that the absence of even one appeal and power to review evidence was distressing and a glaring lacuna.

Where in the world would you find a judicial system without an appeal, here in India of course. The three Acts did not contain a single provision that could be deemed akin to a judicial appeal. There was a provision of pre and post confirmation petitions but these were rarely used in a fashion more than a mere formality. No judicial authority had the jurisdiction to look into or examine the evidence on the basis of which court martial sentences were rendered or the merits of the issues involved. The High Courts and the Apex Court under the writ jurisdiction could of course intervene but only in cases where there was a flouting of statutory provisions or when the sentences rendered were particularly harsh and not commensurate with the offence. The Supreme Court further observed in Ranjit Thakur Vs Union of India (1987) that conscience shaking sentences which are irrationally disproportionate would not be immune from judicial review. The Supreme Court opined that irrationality and perversity were definite grounds wherein Courts could intervene. These shortcomings notwithstanding, it would not exactly be appropriate to say that the three military Acts are without enough checks to avoid miscarriage of justice, there are ample provisions parallel to those available under the criminal system of jurisprudence but the problem remains that unlike the criminal courts, courts martial are presided over not by judicial officers but by officers of the regular army who neither have the acumen nor the bent towards legal and judicial modalities. Moreover, all procedures finally leading to conviction by a court martial (such as Courts of Inquiry, Summary of Evidence etc) are handled by military personnel who may just follow provisions of military Acts and Rules in formal letter but not in spirit - and this makes all the difference. And this also brings us to the answer why a body of professionals such as the AFT is so very urgently required to sit in judgement and appeal over justice rendered to men and women in uniform by another set of men and women in uniform.

The military Acts of India were derivatives of similar Acts of the British and that was the basis why these Acts seemed oppressive. These were moulded as such so as to maintain a grip on discipline over the native Army. The existing Army Act of India, for example, can trace its origin to East India Company’s Mutiny Act, 1754 and the Articles of War of the late 1800s, followed by the Indian Army Act of 1911. Of course this could not be justification enough to retain provisions such as Summary Court Martial after independence or to use terms as ‘customs of war’ in these Acts leading to ambiguity of action by those who want to repress. There is no place for ‘customs’ and ambiguity in criminal jurisprudence and all provisions certainly need to be codified and brought out in black and white. Yes, there may be a difference in the quantum of punishment prescribed for offences in operational and non-operational areas and there may be operation-specific offences but all need to be put in words without leaving any scope of indistinctness in action. Other countries following contemporary systems of justice such as the UK and the USA have since long recognised the need of reducing ‘customs’ to the barest minimum and having an elaborate system of appeal, but India, despite observations by various High Courts, committees and even the Supreme Court, failed to come out of a crude grundnorm which forms the basis of the Army, Navy and Air Force Acts till date.

So how would the AFT help ?. Firstly, the AFT would be a forum of professionals with judicial and military background, a perfect mix to handle legal issues of the military. While the Chairperson can either be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, Judicial Members shall be former Judges of High Courts. The Administrative Members would be retired Major Generals or above of any of the three defence services. Each bench of the Tribunal shall consist of a Judicial and an Administrative Member. The Tribunal shall have the power to deal with all findings, orders and decisions of Courts Martial and related matters. As a welcome measure, the AFT has also been granted the power to release persons under military custody on bail. The AFT has also been conferred with powers of Contempt. Unlike the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), an appeal from the AFT shall lie directly with the Supreme Court.

Besides courts martial, the subject matter of the AFT shall also include service matters such as remuneration, pension, retiral benefits, tenure, appointment, seniority, promotion, superannuation and the like. However Summary Court Martial awards except where dismissal or imprisonment over three months is awarded, would not be under the ambit of the Tribunal. Transfers, postings and leave related matters shall also not be under the purview of the AFT. In case of service matters, even dependants, successors and heirs would be able to approach the Tribunal for justice.

The setting up of the AFT which is bound to bring the much needed relief to military litigants, shall also ensure handling of critical issues by former members of judiciary who would be from outside the ‘chain of command’ and therefore dealing cases with a clean slate with no biases or prejudices. They shall of course be assisted by former military officers - the administrative members, who would, with consensus, be providing important inputs resulting in what hopefully would be well-rounded judicial pronouncements meeting the aspirations of all affected. The AFT would also be in conjunction with the observations by the Supreme Court about providing a proper appellate body for courts martial. But the AFT, without in-house introspection (below) would not be an answer to the shortcomings of the system. What needs to be eliminated is the subjectivity at all levels, starting from initial stages of Inquiry ending with the Trial. The letter of law at all stages needs to be followed in spirit and not as a sheer formality, an effective system of defence for the accused needs to be put into place and senior officers in the chain of command need to be sensitised so as not to interfere in the deliverance of justice in the military. Presiding officers and officers of the JAG Branch have to be absolutely inert from slanted influences and pre-decisions at all levels.

Objectivity, change in judicial perception coupled with the inception of the AFT, hopefully this would put to rest those strong adjectives for military system of jurisprudence.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

(1) Guidelines issued for numerical grading of All India Service Officers, and (2) Ward Entitlement notified in accordance with pay

The officers of the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service now have a numerical system of Performance appraisal which is to be taken into account for promotions and empanelments.

The Govt of India has further clarified the modalities of numerical appraisal and it has been conveyed to all States and UTs that ‘high’ credits should not be granted as a matter of routine and should be restricted to 20% officers only. It has further been added that a grading of more than ‘8’ shall be supported by reasons recorded in writing. The new guidelines can be accessed by clicking here.

Ward Entitlement for hospitals under CGHS for civil servants has been notified in light of the 6th CPC scales. Alongwith this, ward entitlement at AIIMS has also been notified. This has a de facto effect on military personnel who may be referred to AIIMS or equivalent national level hospitals by service medical authorities. According to new guidelines by Govt of India, Central Govt employees with a basic pay upto Rs 13950 (irrespective of Grade Pay) shall be entitled to a General Ward, those with a pay between Rs 13960 and 19530 shall be entitled to a Semi-Private Ward and those with a basic pay of Rs 19540 and above shall be entitled to a Private Ward.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Welcome Step : ECHS to issue medicines for 90 days for chronic ailments

The ECHS Central Organisation has decided to issue directions for release of medicines for a period of three months to patients suffering from chronic ailments since issuance of medication for shorter periods was causing hardship to patients who had to visit ECHS establishments time and again to get the same re-issued.

These instructions have been circulated vide Letter No B/49762/AG/ECHS dated 13 May 2009 and have been disseminated to all Commands (including IN & IAF).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chandigarh administration improves and rationalises one-time lump-sum and monthly grants to awardees of gallantry and distinguished service medals

The Chandigarh Administration has increased and rationalised monthly grants and one time cash awards for both distinguished service and gallantry awardees.

In gallantry awards, the one time amount varies from Rs 25 lacs for PVC awardees to Rs 2.5 lacs for M-in-D. The monthly allowance for PVC shall be Rs 10,000 while for M-in-D it shall be Rs 1,000.

In case of distinguished service awards, the amount varies from Rs 5 lacs for SYSM to Rs 2 lacs for VSM. The monthly allowance for SYSM shall be Rs 2500 while for VSM it shall be Rs 1000.

Still there is disparity amongst various States and UTs on the subject and despite requests by MoD to States and UTs for uniformity in the same, the problem remains unaddressed. To take an example, while Chandigarh offers Rs 3500 per month for Shaurya Chakra awardees, another northern State pays just Rs 400 for the same award.

A scan of the Chandigarh news-report in Hindustan Times can be accessed by clicking here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Them and Us, There and Here.....




Experience 'us' here and here too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

(1) It‘s going to be ‘Parity in Pension’ in lieu of OROP, and (2) ‘Salute’ salutes the Sappers

There are indications in place that the govt is soon going to announce the much needed respite to pre-2006 pensioners by announcing a system incorporating ‘parity in pensions’. While this may not be at par with OROP, still it would definitely bridge the gap between pre and post 2006 pensioners. In all probability, the new system would be incorporated only for personnel other than Commissioned Officers. Officers may have a formula different than PBOR. The exact modalities would be available for all to see once the recommendations are presented to the govt by the committee(s) set up for the purpose, which incidentally would be weeks and not months.

Now for the second unrelated post. The latest edition of ‘Salute’ magazine carries some insightful stories on the Sappers. Amongst others, there is an interview with the Engineer-in-Chief, Lt Gen Gautam Dutt, VSM, the sports and battle achievements of the Corps of Engineers and the contribution of the Corps towards disaster management. For the uninitiated, ‘Salute to the Soldier’ is a privately published magazine and a brain-child of Maj Maroof Raza. It is the first non-governmental military publication of its kind which refreshingly deals with social aspects of service life and other military issues.

Coming back to the Sapper special issue of ‘Salute’. Those who know Gen Dutt would agree that the Sappers could not have had a better bet. Being a Bengal Sapper’s son, I cannot overtly wax eloquent about him lest people suggest that I’m biased, but the thinking General (no this is not an oxymoron) is going to leave a legacy that would be pretty tough to carry on. Known to be approachable, democratic, amiable and open to new ideas, he is not your regular 3-Star General but more like a friendly elder whose advice one can count on. The Corps of Engineers Special also has separate articles on all three Sappers (Madras / Bengal / Bombay), the BRO, MES and some other interesting tidbits. The magazine can be subscribed through Flags Media, J-7 / 21 A, DLF Phase-II, Gurgaon-122002 (Haryana) and the web edition can be accessed through http://www.salute.co.in/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Non-revision of pension of post 1-1-06 retirees : High Court issues notice

The Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice of motion to the PCDA(P) and other authorities for not revising the pensions of post 01 Jan 2006 retirees. A civil writ petition in this regard was filed by Brig P S Sanghera, a retired Sapper officer.

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, the post-06 retirees till date are being released pensions at 5th CPC scales. Even other retiral benefits of post-06 retirees have not been configured and released in accordance with the new scales. Certain officers who retired after 01 January 2006 have pegged their dues from the PCDA (P) at more than Rs 30 lacs.

Even the Sainik Welfare department of the Punjab Govt has communicated the predicament of post-06 pensioners to the MoD and related authorities. The department has reminded the Central Govt that all pay records of defence personnel are computerized and in this particular light the delay in fixation of pension as per the new scales is perplexing. It has also been conveyed to the authorities that the Presidential sanction for pension revision was issued in November last year but till date the pension of such retirees has not been re-fixed in accordance with the orders.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Be courteous to info seekers : Important instructions on RTI Act which are a must-see for all PIOs and Appellate Authorities as well as info-seekers

I agree that the RTI Act can sometimes be a pain for PIOs when perhaps misused by litigious personalities. However any miniscule negative side-effects of the Act are far outweighed by the sheer constructive consequence that the Act has had on public life. This is the single one step which has brought in some amount of transparency and accountability in governance. And that is the reason why it pains me to hear certain PIOs speak in derogatory terms about RTI applicants as if information seekers are enemies of the State.

This attitude needs to be curbed. The Act is a piece of legislation which empowers each citizen to have access to public information, files, notings, material etc which normally is hidden behind an unnecessary veil of secrecy. The Act has also forced public authorities to tread on the path of administrative reform and to actually do what they are supposed to do. There was a time when the administration used to just sit on applications made by the public. Not anymore. One IPO of Rs 10 does wonders - which brings us back to the topic. PIOs need to treat RTI Applicants as equal participants towards the aim of responsive governance and a regime of transparent administration. And this is exactly why the DoPT (the controlling Ministry for RTI) had issued instructions in 2008 (No 4/9/2008-IR) asking PIOs to be courteous to information seekers. Acknowledging that it had been brought to the notice of the DoPT that some PIOs do not ‘behave properly’ with information seekers, the department has reminded PIOs that the ‘responsibility of a public authority and its public information officers (PlOs) is not confined to furnish Information but also to provide necessary help to the information seeker, wherever necessary. While providing information or rendering help to a person, it is important to be courteous to the information seeker and to respect his / her dignity.’

The above mentioned instructions become all the more important in view of the fact that the RTI Act does not only provide a right to seek information but also to inspect files and records the application for which can be made to the concerned PIO and for which no charges are chargeable for the first hour (Rs 5/- are however charged for every fifteen minutes thereafter).

The benefits of the Act in a military backdrop have already been highlighted in this earlier post.