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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The gameplan of legal pundits : The govt sleeps while sadists take the system for a ride

You may have read this on the blog before.

All is fair in love and war they say, and the same seems to be the battle-cry of the Central Government against its retired employees.

So what is it that the people in officialdom have against disabled veterans and pensioners ?

The last months have seen the Union of India filing appeals and SLPs in almost every decision of the Hon’ble Courts allowing disability pension to disabled veterans. The same is the story with other pensionary matters. I feel ashamed in saying this but while the lawyers make hay, former soldiers and their families suffer in silence.

It is turning out to be sickening now. And this is to say the least.

Law has now been well settled by the Courts including the Hon’ble Supreme Court on certain issues, but the legal advisors of the government are in no mood to relent. Even when High Courts (and now benches of the AFT) are deciding matters with well-rounded decisions based on settled law and principles of equity, the central govt continues to mindlessly file appeals before the Supreme Court. The govt also continues to refuse benefits to veterans in settled issues till the time individual cases are filed separately by pensioners. One such glaring example discussed before is disability pension to voluntary retirees. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of voluntary retirees to receive disability pension, the Union of India continues to file appeals against decisions of High Courts granting such benefits to affected disabled personnel. Another very recent and shocking example is SLP No 688 of 2010 filed by the Central Govt before the Supreme Court which was listed for hearing on 25th of January, 2010. The case involved the improved pensionary benefits granted to PBOR wef 10-10-1997 after removing the anomalies of the 5th CPC. The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court had earlier in the year 2008 held that such benefits had to be granted to affected personnel with effect from 01-01-1996 (and not 10-10-1997) since the anomaly had to be rectified from the date of its inception and not from some other prospective artificial date. The High Court had hence held personnel who retired between 01-01-1996 to 10-10-1997 also entitled to the enhanced benefits. The Union of India, as expected, challenged the verdict before the Hon’ble Supreme Court through an SLP but the same was dismissed on merits on 21-11-2008. So far, so good, but what is shameful is that fully knowing that the law was now settled by the Apex Court and that the Central Govt had itself rectified this anomaly through the anomalies committee, another SLP (the above mentioned 688 of 2010) was filed by them this new year against another such decision by the same High Court and the same has again been dismissed by the Apex Court on 25-01-2010. I bet the Hon’ble Supreme Court would not have been informed in the fresh SLP of the earlier dismissal of an exactly similar case in the year 2008.

It is high time that the Defence Minister, the military top brass and the Defence Secretary take a call on this mindless one sided ego based litigation which, besides leading to burdening judicial fora, is also leading to burden on the State and demoralisation of rank and file. Nobody stands to gain except probably the battery of lawyers appearing for the Union of India. It also seems that power has been concentrated in the hands of a few officers dealing with pensionary and legal matters who have spent quite a few years in the corridors of the Services Headquarters & the Ministry and decisions of filing appeals are thrust upon the top brass without due judiciousness or sensitivity concerning the issues at hand. This must change. A letter recently marked to the Defence Minster by a an ex-services welfare organisation aptly describes the rot :


“Lower staff at the Pension wing of the Defence Ministry is also known to prepare misleading and deceptive noting sheets which are put up to senior officers and even the Raksha Mantri, who in good faith affix their initials leaving the gallery open to such officers who then flaunt the said approvals by stating that the same have the sanction of the Defence Minister. It is also learnt that the officers in the Defence Ministry have asked Govt lawyers in writing to change their legal opinion when such lawyers had advised against filing of appeals.”

What is the game behind this, one may ask. Well, the govt is well aware that disabled veterans and poor pensioners do not have adequate financial back-up to defend their cases in the Supreme Court, so for the govt it is well worth taking a chance. I can only say that in the interest of equity and fair-play, we all must wake up before some officers take the entire defence services and the legal system for a royal ride. It is also time for senior staff of the Ministry and our uniformed officers to apply proper mind before they permit their subordinates to resort to unethical litigation against poor people who have served the nation to the best of their abilities. The hint of my call is particularly directed towards the upper echelons of Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare in the MoD and the Personnel Services Directorate in the Army Headquarters. The tendency to view poor litigants as ‘Enemies of the State’ must also change.

19 comments:

aparajeta said...

I have recently come across a Corrigendum PPO No. Corr/054450/2009 dt. 19 Nov 2009 (Original PPO No. S/124675/87) wherein a retired HAV (Pre-96) having 24 Yrs Service has been granted Revised & Consilidated pension of Rs. 2104/- p.m. wef 01 Jan 96. Earlier, as per PCDA(P) Circular No. 350 dt. 19 May 06 he was granted Rs. 2104/- (Same pension) wef 01 Jan 2006. It seems from the corr. PPO that the benefit is now extended wef 01 Jan 96.

AK Chakraborty
Ex-Hav
ashimchak1963@rediffmail.com

Lt Col MS Dhillon said...

Shame on the people who indulge in such actions. This thing needs to be exposed more in the media. The honourable Supreme Court must impose monetary fines on persons indulging in frivolous legal process.

JUSTIN said...

EXCELLENT AND CORRECT PRESENTATION BY MAJ NAVDEEP.THE FIN. DEFENCE BENEFITS ANNOUNCED BY GOVT IS NOT IMPLEMENTED IN TANDOM.IT CONTRADICTS THE REPORTS IT SELF.POOR FAUJIS R SUFFERERS BECAUSE OF SHAMEFULL APPROACH BY GOVT MACHINERY.THE LOWER RANKS R WORST EFFECTED.THERE IS NO UNION BACKING FOR THEM.EVEN REGARDING THE SAID BENEFIT OF CIR NO 350 STILL THE FUTURE OF PRE-96 PBOR IS UNDECIDED.WETHER THEY WILL GET BENEFIT FROM 01/01/1996 OR NOT ???

Anonymous said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I appreciate and fully endorse your well written and forceful presentation. More often than not it is the concerned personnel in the concerned ministry dealing with law and justice who are responsible for the dismal situation. Even judgments are put to "indifferent" contexts and applications- selecting the "key words" and "expressions" nto suit vested view-points.I have experienced often the pension administration does not act in a just manner. Scrutiny and expert advice required at higher levels are short-circuited by not "allowing" the files to move up. The decay process is so disgusting, that many "senior citizens" will lose faith in the system of administration of justice in our country. Utterances of the Law Minister and CJI at the recent CAT conference to make the Govt. an unwilling litigant' has already become history - as you may witness a plethora of pension cases in the next few months!- A SUFFERER

RDOA said...

Retired Defence Officers Association(RDOA) fully endorses your views on the unnecessary litigations amounting to harrasment of the rank and file.
The Union Law Minister must live up to his words that the Govt is the biggest unnecessay litigant in most cases thereby increasing the load of the judiciary
Secy RDOA

Lt Col A N Ramachandran(Retd) said...

My dear Maj Navdeep,
You have very incisively brought out the malaise that exists in the system.The disabled veterans have been given, as I mentioned on one of my earlier comments, another kick in the teeth by the babudom of MoD.Even the High Court and Supreme Cort judgments are ignored by them with impunity and no one in the decision making process of the MoD cares.Evidently the Service Headquarters have not been able to do much to improve the lot of the disabled veterans despite the fact that the disparity between the govt employees disabled and the veteran disabled is so glaring.Can a nation do more discredit to it's disabled veterans? But where do we go from here? Girdle up to fight another legal battle? Mind you, we are still fighting the rank pay fiasco of the 4th pay commission in the Supreme Court.Maj Navdeep, could you please throw a lifeline to the disabled veterans?

A B Mehta said...

This is a very serious matter and must be brought to the notice of Service Chiefs, Defence Minister and Chief Justice of India. I hope this has been done.
Reently the Chief Justice had openly advised the Central and State governments to carefully examine a matter before filing appeals to reduce the number of pending cases.

Gp Capt A B Mehta

JB Singh said...

Power flows from your ability to deny something - not grant it. This legal game play is just another tool in their hands - like it is in many other spheres of the government. A patwari's power flows from not because he can get your piece of land mutated, but by how difficult he can make it for.

ak said...

dear sir ,
its also shallowness of the stff and offrs involved in filing frivolous appeals just because they didn't have the time or inclination to get to know the ruling given by the apex court.
if you try asking the offrs about the legal posn of the govt they will keep redirecting to all but self because the attitude is to sign whatever the bright dealing clerk has put up in his brightness
amit

Anonymous said...

dear maj navdeep
i remember your blog and ur stand
in GREF case of imprisonment of two generals . there also administrative authorities did not obey the court order and govt order .

so it is not new that authrities
take a different view other than court order .

only difference is that personsons on other side of table is different

thanks

Rajababu said...

My dear serving faujis,

look what fate awaits u after retirement?? absolutely sorry state of affairs. so much for our Globally emerging powerhouse status that cant set its house in order but is aiming to solve the global issues!!

Its time to look within and root out the malise/vices and stop having this feel good factor(stop saying "all iz well" and say "much needs to be done")

Anonymous said...

Yes, Authorities take a different view without any power to do so. Sorry this is because when cornered these babus apologize shamelessly and the courts let them off. So with a smug smile the babu is at his tricks again!

Mao Tse Tsung said...

Power flows from the barrel of a gun...

Harry said...

@ Mao Tse Tung

Sir you must be from either China or Pakistan to say that 'cos NO power flows from Indian Soldiers' Gun. Rest assured!

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. These people who are the force behind these mindless SLPs should be identified and spoken to. Their houses should be peacefully gheraod in Gandhigiri fashion. It might shame them

Anonymous said...

Rajababu!! You have summed up it well

ms said...

DEAR MAJ NAVDEEP,

MAY I REQUEST YOU TO KINDLY GIVE SOME AUTHORITY AND RULES FOR PATERNITY LEAVE IN RESPECT OF SOLDIERS/OFFRS, SOME OFFRS HAVE TAKEN THIS BUT ARE NOT ABLE TO QUOTE ANY AUTHORITY.

REGARDS

sridhar said...

DEAR MAJ NAVDEEP,

MAY I REQUEST YOU TO KINDLY GIVE SOME AUTHORITY AND RULES FOR PATERNITY LEAVE IN RESPECT OF SOLDIERS/OFFRS, SOME OFFRS HAVE TAKEN THIS BUT ARE NOT ABLE TO QUOTE ANY AUTHORITY.

REGARDS

anu said...

My dear Maj Navdeep,
1. As per the existing ECHS policy on employment of Officer incharge of ECHS Polyclinics, the medical officers are debarred to apply for the post.Only Non medical army officers and non technical officers of AMC are eligible to apply. The medical officers /spl can only apply for the post of medical officers.
2. It is seen that in number of places there is only one medical officer and one officer in charge polyclinic.The polyclinic becomes defunct when the medical officer goes on leave.
3. If the job is opened for medical officer it will help the system as they will not only see the patients but do the medical documentation, checking of medical bills of em paneled hospitals better.It is seen that many a time the O I/C polyclinic do not understand the medical words/various tests/management of cases and depends on the medical officers.
4. The medical officers posses management capabilities at par with any other officer as they successfully commands various hospitals and field hospital during their service career.
4. There is wide perception that this clause was inserted for mutual benefit of the AMC boss and non medical top brass of Army at the time of framing the rule.
5. Please give your legal advice on the subject.
Thanks
Atul