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 Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained.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

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.