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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blame Game : MoD style !

“We believe to err is human. To blame it on someone else is politics" : Hubert H Humphrey

The MoD is unfairly and unnecessarily blaming the Services for non-implementation of Court orders.

People who are familiar with the field of litigation in the defence services would be aware of the fact that most of the cases decided in favour of pensioners, especially disabled personnel, are not implemented in a timely manner and majority of decisions of Courts and Tribunals are implemented only after contempt petitions are filed by affected parties. Even the judgements that are implemented are done so in a reluctant manner with the feeling in the South Block being that the policies framed by the MoD are sacrosanct and that every decision against the thought-process of the MoD should be challenged in a higher Court of Law. Fair enough, since the Constitutional framework provides a right to appeal to every party to a case. But this assumes dangerous proportions when even verdict after verdict on a particular issue, including by the highest Court of the land, the MoD continues to file appeals in similar matters thereby burdening the pockets of veterans and dockets of Courts. This is done with one singular motive – that out of the many appeals filed, even if one succeeds, the MoD would be able to scuttle the move for a change in policy for the better. And this is done being fully aware that veterans cannot afford legal help, especially at Supreme Court level, and hence it is not surprising that in most of the cases where decisions were ultimately rendered in favour of the MoD the affected parties were either unrepresented or were appearing in person, the reason being common – inability to afford counsel fee.

The powers to implement Court orders have been delegated to the Services HQ. It was earlier felt that due to lack of proper understanding, the Services HQ were blindly following the dictates of the MoD, especially in pensionary matters, and recommending appeals even in settled issues and further making no moves to reduce litigation or to bring about changes in policies that had persistently faced flak from the Courts. But this changed in the recent few years when the AG’s branch and the Personnel Services Directorate truly started taking proper interest in these matters with actual application of mind resulting in some proactive policy decisions and also putting it on record that certain imbalanced policies of the MoD which were resulting in a major flux of litigation, required a re-look. It was also now clear that even in certain issues where the Services HQ were of the view that appeals were not required to be filed, the MoD still insisted on challenging the verdicts but publicly projecting that it were the Services which were going about filing appeals against their own pensioners and not the MoD since the powers to implement decisions were vested with the Services HQ. In fact, it was more than once communicated by the MoD on hard paper that they were not the ones filing appeals, but the Services HQ. This statement was, and remains, a sham. It appears that despite best efforts by all stake-holders, the perception in the corridors of the MoD, especially, the Pension Wing, is, that veterans are greedy and do not deserve more than what they are already getting. The efforts of the Services HQ to bring about a change in policy meet the waste-bin in ways more than one.

And now comes another hard to believe master-stroke. Now the MoD has blamed the Services for delay in implementation of orders by Benches of the AFT. It has also been stated before the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Defence that about 303 decisions are yet to be implemented due to the delay caused by the hierarchical structure of the services. The excuse is hogwash and so is the number since there must be well over 2000 decisions as on date which have not been implemented. 303 is a very mild figure and at best depicts an antiquated bolt action gun.

Hence in the ultimate analysis, when the public questions the MoD over appeals being filed against veterans and the disabled, it (the MoD) very conveniently blames the Services leaving the Services HQ at the mercy of public flak and ridicule, and when a Parliamentary committee questions the non-implementation of Court orders, again the Services are blamed for the delay when the actual culprit is the sadist attitude of those manning certain lower level appointments in the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare in the MoD.

The policy making mechanism at the Pension wing is leading to frustration and a sense of great disservice. In-principle decisions taken at the highest level are scuttled by lower staff by misleading file notings. Policy decisions take years to materialise, for example, certain anomalies of the 5th CPC are being resolved 15 years after the date of implementation of the 5th CPC. Rather than taking decisions at the govt level, files are sent to the offices of CGDA and PCDA(P) for drafting govt letters and seeking their opinions, whereas accountants have actually nothing to do with the process of decision making, their duty is to disburse payments based on govt policy and not make the policy itself. Rather than rectifying anomalous policies, appeals to the SC are made as a matter of routine, to take an example, the SC has in atleast 10 cases settled the issue of grant of service element to pre-1973 retirees irrespective of length of service even if the disability falls below 20%, but the MoD continues to file appeals in similar cases and at this particular moment, more than 50 appeals are pending on the subject filed by the MoD against disabled veterans, most of them over the age of 70 notwithstanding 10 verdicts in favour of veterans. In cases of disability pension, till the 5th CPC, the amount for disability element for say 20% disability was Rs 310/- per month and even in such cases appeals were filed as a matter of routine when disability pension was allowed by Courts wherein lacs of rupees were paid to the battery of counsel representing the MoD, the great MoD which has scant respect for the National Litigation Policy formulated by the Union of India, that great MoD which treats its disabled as its adversaries, that MoD which feels that pensioners are a greedy lot, that MoD which would wrongly blame the Army, Navy and the Air Force fully knowing the sleight of hand at play, that MoD whose staffers believe that they are better jurists than the Courts rendering verdicts in favour of pensioners and the proof of this attitude lies in the fact that the MoD has filed a review petition in every single case decided by the Supreme Court in favour of pensioners in the recent times.

The solution :

Solution No 1 : The top brass at the MoD including the RM, the RRM and the Secretary of the Department of ESW, starts taking proper interest in the affairs of veterans by way of initiating democratic decisions by involving all stake holders – the ESW staff, the Services, representatives of recognised veteran bodies with experts in the field. Look at the current lot dealing with the issues involving millions of veterans – An otherwise well meaning Secretary from the IAS who is retiring soon, a Joint Secretary from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre of the IAS who is currently on training and whose tenure under the Central Staffing Scheme ends this year, a Director (Pensions) who is from the Indian Forest Service and knows nothing about pensions and who would soon revert to his parent cadre, two Under Secretaries from the Central Secretariat Service (CSS) who again have no expertise in pensionary matters and who probably rule the roost of the pension branch, knowing that the department is entirely dependent on them, in all probability assuming more air of authority than what their so-called proficiency really warrants.

Solution No 2 : Disband the Army. Period.


Col(Retd) Balakrishna N said...

Kudos to you Maj Navdeep.

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis.
It appears MOD is manned by thick skinned personnel.
When Generals,Admirals and Air Marshals are good enough for Governors, Ambassadors,etc, surely senior Defence officers ought to be appointed for sensitive posts in the MOD to clear the rot that has taken deep root and usher in some logic and common sense in orders that are being issued by MOD.

Pokar Ram said...

Dear Major Navdeep,
1.Your analysis is excellent and truthful thus your actions are also MAJOR besides the rank.
2. I have no vocabulary to express my gratitude to you for the services you are rendering to the defence services notwithstanding your busy schedule as an advocate.
3. May God bless you !!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep

Thanks for thought provoking article. Hope some of our serving Air Marshals,Admirals and Generals manage to read this somehow.May be their mind will for somwtime go away from Governer post and think about ESM which they will be soon. In anycase all cant Prized posts ,hence better to concentrate on own known community,s welfare who have given all for the nation.

Brig Opinder Singh (Retd) said...

Dear Maj Navdeep, Your deep knowledge of Defence Forces and MOD, Govt Of India, is the cause for this forthright analysis of malaise that is defying the correct solutions to the problem of veterans /widows to whom the countrymen owe a debt of gratitude and correct application of law,if nothing more. But nothing can be expected from the men they have employed to look after the defence forces/veterans welfare.Your figures of cases filed by MOD speak for themselves. When 70 % IAS persons find a re-employment with the same government on superannuation why the retiring defence officers/JCO's can not be asked to handle such departments like ESW/DGR etc.Solutions you have suggested are most appropriate. My compliments to you for devoting your time in and out of your profession for the veterans.

Brig Opinder Singh(Retd)

Anonymous said...

Well, this should be taken as silver lining by the Service HQ and all decisions of the AFT should be implemented forthwith and the implementation instructions should be made public immediately. May be Service HQ can give list of all AFT decisions and status of their implementation including where the files are stuck in the corridors of MoD and since when for information of all>

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep,

It is really sad that things have come to such a state that even an eternal optimist and cool head like you is having to resort to such words. ( option 2 in ur post)

You know, when I watch the News everyday, I realise what a terrible state of Affairs the Govt is in. It is indeed shocking to see the nexus between the Ministers, bureaucrats and the businessmen. We see that businessmen have become 1000 times richer in 5 years time, IAS officers retire to a lavish lifestyle, policians never retire and are not accountable, like Shiela Dixit and the like.

In the Armed Forces, only the most sycophantic officer stands any chance of promotion because of the steep pyramid of heirarchy. Any self respecting , thinking individual is dumped at Lt Col.

If ur a corruption free man can u afford, at retirement, a decent 3 BHK apartment in any city without inheritance / other contributions.

Survival is all about speaking untruths, half truths, manipulation, cunning, slyness, bribery, flattery, selfishness and one up man ship.

Is there any hope in this country for a simple, honest and God fearing man ?

jimmy 48 said...

Well said, Maj. Navdeep!

Anonymous said...

"it is not surprising that in most of the cases where decisions were ultimately rendered in favour of the MoD the affected parties were either unrepresented or were appearing in person, the reason being common – inability to afford counsel fee." After reading this i doubt if we can say justice is meted out in a judicious manner irrespective of the financial status of the persons involved or is the justice available only for those who are rich?

Anonymous said...

With the passage of time, the Gandhian Policies, that the veterans have been following in the last couple of years to project their grievances,appear to have become 'Obsolete'.
By virtue of our being a Highly Disciplined Community, we could not be hostile in our approaches so far, as we very often find with the people in various other sectors of the society.
The question then,how long should it continue like this?
The way veterans of the Armed Forces are being neglected in this country,would have been a matter of Serious Concern to any thoughtful Govt.anywhere in the
It definitely do not indicate anything Constructive or Wise on
the part of the Democratically Elected Government,MOD in particular,when they fail to extend due regards even to the authentic and logical requests made by very senior veterans of
the Armed Forces!
God Forbid,a time may not come when the Troops will start thinking themselves to be 'Shelter- less' and 'Highly Insecure' as today's soldier is a veteran of tomorrow and if so happens,that will be a DOOMS DAY for the country and then the responsibility has to be shouldered by related politicians and bureaucrats only and none else!

Prisoner Of Peace said...

My vote for Solution No 2...

Brajesh Kumar said...

Hi Navdeep,
Good to see your portal going from strength to strength. The weakness has always been of the Services. One can get our dues provided we do our home work well, possess high professional integrity and mean business. continuity of course is equally important along with the intellect. A tough call for fauzis.
Keep it going & well done!!
Brajesh Kumar

Anonymous said...

The only solution is to end staffing of MOD by non service personnel

dattatreyahg said...

In the beginning,I was following this blog for the objective analysis of an issue,for its lucid presentation with facts&figures,well orchestrated logic and for the beauty&strength of the language. But this one really moved me to tears when it brings out the helplessness of veterans not being able to proceed beyond a certain point purely because they dont have the means(money). I dont know if these postings do find their way upto the Defence Minister and other bigwigs who are vested with the full authority (and also bear responsibility) to look after the welfare of veterans.Cant we produce a booklet containing all such articles and distrbute it to all elected representatives both at Centre & States,Chiefs of defence Services, the media and other opinion-makers? It can even be published &sold for the benefit of the common man. Thnk you Navdeep for all that you are doing.

Manjunath said...

Good Analysis Sir,
Sgt Manjunath Swamy

Unknown said...

1. The civilians in MoD without service background or exposure are just that - IDMS (IGNORANT DEFENSE MINISTERIAL STAFF) posted by default to MoD.
2. Who says that they can take any decision repeat ANY DECISION without concurrence in writing (on paper in black and white) of concerned service HQs ? They just can not. Full stop.
3. It is the service Hqs concerned staff which bows and genueflexes. curries favours and conveys erroneus concurrences. Leaves spines at home and gives opportunity to babus to boss over.
4. I have dealt with them personally and in my experience when ever I have done my home work correctly and presented valid arguments whether to file appeal or NOT to fil appeal, the babus of MoD had no option but to concur.
5. Blame babus and I can provide enough grounds for that but first correct staff work at service hqs. The staff offrs have even forgotten Minor SD what to talk about staff duties ?

Rajender Agarwal said...

Hi Navdeep, At the outset, your efforts and subject knowledge is highly appreciable.

Just one more help? Cabinet commettee in latest report (2009)recommneded the classification pay for the PBOR (for all 3 services) even those who retired between Jan 06 And Sep 08. More than two years have passed after the report, but this does not seems to see light of the day. Can you pls take up, it would benefit lot of PBORs.

Harry said...

@ Maj Navdeep


I see a lot of emotions and a sense of helplessness in the post. While it is certainly a reflection of sad state of affairs but betraying a sense of despondency is not likely to help matters much,IMHO!

So long our Top Brass do not get their priorities right, NOTHING SUBSTANTIAL would result.

PS:- BTW, How many can MoD sack?

Anonymous said...

Are there any service/conduct- rules/regulations for civilians under which case could be filed for causing financial loss to an ESM in the form of delay or denial of pension as Admissible to him/her. its time to start filling FIR against the MoD babus for their unauthorised acts which causes financial loss to ESM, similar to filling of FIR for loss to govt. pls advise.

Anonymous said...

Navdeep, your solutions are interesting. Particularly the second one is worth considering in all seriousness. We need a fresh Army that is not parochial and trade unionist in character.


Anonymous said...

dear navdeep sir,
you have put to words what a lot of us feel but unable to pen it down. do our officers who matter read this and feel the alienation that is building up in the rank and file that our officers have really forgotten the chetwood motto and are only concerned with short term priorities of how to get that next good posting or some such favour.
of not working that extra hour , of not caring what happens to the org that has placed them there

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

My dear Maj Navdeep,
Words are insufficient to thank you for presenting so lucidly and forcefully the manner in which the veterans are being cheated of their rightful entitlements. Things have come to such a pass now, that one is forced to suggest an unthinkable option No.2 as mentioned in your post.
But, where do we go from here? No doubt,people at the Service HQ need to assert much more over the Dept of ESM Welfare in order to secure what is rightfully due to the veterans.I also agree with the suggestions put forward by "Dattatreyahg" to give our grievances wider audience amongst those who matter in effecting a change for the better. I am amazed that the RM has not been able to do anything in this matter to ameliorate the sufferings of the veterans, despite the fact that he has been the RM for so many years now.
Once again, thank you Maj Navdeep for the very emphatic articulation of the malady affecting the helpless veterans.

Anonymous said...

concerns officers who retired & took reemployment before 1-1-06 and continued on reemployment beyond 1-1-06.
such officers were paid far less than those officers who retired & took reemployment after 1-1-06.
This , to me . appeared to be against the natural justice- equal pay for equal work.
I took it up with MOD ; who have rejected my point.
any one with legal knowledge,may please advise.

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep,
the instructors allowance for IAS and IFS officers at NDC is 25000/ month but officers in the services are getting a nominal allowance posted anywhere at CAT A ESTABLISHMENTS do you feel there is inequality and is there a case in point where the same can be taken up by you at the appropriate level

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I feel self helpis the best help. A large number of officers have taken up legal practice after retirement and are doing really well. They should come forward for some social service towards our veterans. Even if one officer takes up the case of one pensioner, it will be a great service to our veterans. Not only will they get justice but the idea of the Babus that they can take the pensioners to ransom will also be defeated.

Lets get together and help our veterans as we are going to be in their position tomorrow.

Mandeep Dhillon said...

Excellent Analysis Navdeep. Today I read an article in The Tribune which says that Army HQ has asked all army commands to ensure that contested litigation concerning retired personnel are withdrawn where the issue involved is well settled by previous judgements. The article went on to say that this is for the first time such orders have been issued. Also it said that directions have been issued that in case of disabled veterans where the administrative authorites have wrongly over-ruled ruling of medical authorities which were in favour of veteran...cases of the same should be withdrawn.
Implementation of the above should reduce unnecessary litigation.
Appears...sense is prevailing though it is coming slowly and in bits and pieces.

Lt Col AS Legha,SC said...

Lt Col Amanpreet Singh, SC

Having read the awesome article by Navdeep and the comments from all others, I feel sorry not only for the vets but most of all for those hapless families left behind by our gallant comrades who laid down their lives for the country. Can we imagine their plight ?
Without sounding despondent - one would surely like to point out that what can we expect when we have NOT ONE but two ex COAS being accused of frauds and scams to line their own pockets, not mention that one of them has his MS irrefutably indicted in similar stuff ? We need a shake up of how officers of the senior levels are selected and appointed. We need some soldiers up there before we can expect someone to stand up to the Babu's and the Namaste jees !

ganapathy ramesh said...

it is strange that uniformed armed forces personnel are really helpless,a gp d civilian in an ordnance factory has received over time arrears which was due from 2006 jan, to around 1.5 to 2 lac as arrears and if u count his overall VIth cpc arrears it works to more than 5lacs minimum as arrears.pse u fools wake up they are able to get their dues bcos they have their union to fight to their cause to their core. can u calculate an exservicemans arrears in respect to them.

Anonymous said...

Maj Navdeep pleaded case for army pers in GREF in AFT. OA 144/11 dt 19 Apr 11 was passed by the tribunal in favour of applicants. The order is still not implemented.
I would like to add that monetary benefits have also been stopped for troops (Pioneer Units of Army under GREF) providing protection to personnel and property of GREF in counter insurgency area after the CAG report and their part II orders rejected by CDA(O) based on DO letter and CAG report under reference.CAG Report and rejection of Part II order implies that tps providing protection to pers and property of GREF does not have special powers and legal protection under AFSPA.Troops will be subjected to criminal proceeding in case accidental injury/damage to civ or their property while fighting terrorist/militants or suspected militants. In my knowledge, no unit of Indian Army is operating in distrubed area of J & K and North East without special powers and legal protection of AFSPA.

Unknown said...

The Government will look into ESMs problems only when it realises that they are a potent voting constituency. Recent successful campaign by Shri Anna Hazare has in no uncertain terms emphasised the collective power of people that the Govt is afraid of. A concerted effort should be made to ensure that ESM vote en bloc like religious minorities and the appeasement by Govt of the day will logically follow. To achieve this,all ESM associations at State should unite their efforts to act as a homogeneous body.

Captain Mohinder Singh said...

DEar Navdeep ji,
You had once tried to take up the case of ECOs' who are very less in number and is a deminishing cadre.They are in the age group of 70-75.SSRC officers are a regular adre and should not be mixed up with ECOs.Ecos this day are those who had jumped in to burning fire in 1962 and most of them were killed. I had suggested to get them a meagre pension even if it Rs.3/-pm as the same will earn them medical facilty under ECHS which is not asking for moon.
What do you say Maj. Navdeep ji?

Sgt R H Sharma said...

Dear Sir ,
your contribution for the welfare of defence personnel is commendable. Like this you have written the letter to PM, defence Minister, All three Chief. MOD and other secreteries highlighting the most neglected issue of disabilty benifits which are being denied by a single sentence'' Not attributable or not aggribated by service. Thanks for highlighting such issues and fighting for the beeterment of armed forces perssoneel .

Sgt Ram Hari Sharma

Rajesh said...

Cant you take an appt with RM thru an MP or so and apprise him directly ?
Letters to RM will just be passed dn the the channel to some junior babu where it gets buried conveniently.

Subhash said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,

There was a talk some time back of time scale Col rank for finally non empanelled officers at 22/23 yrs of service. Any updates/ status of this?
Lt Col Subhash

Anonymous said...

dear maj navdeep, i so sorry that i read this article so late. your solution to the problem is excellent but incomplete. you have said disband the army. you should had added airforce and navy too, they are smaller than us but suffer the same fate.