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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Attributability on negligent handling of weapons

I was party to a discussion recently wherein a senior officer was directing a junior to change the statement of attributability in a case involving negligent discharge of a small arm while on duty by a Sepoy. It was not a case of self-inflicted injury. The senior officer was of the opinion that such cases should be declared ‘not attributable to service’. He was further of the opinion that such personnel should not be made entitled to pension or disability pension in case of invalidation from service.

Is such an approach correct ?

Not at all. Firstly, such cases definitely have to be declared ‘attributable to service’ since acts and omissions while handling weapons have a direct link and nexus with military service. Would the person have suffered this particular injury had he not been in the Army? The answer would be in the negative. Hence, the correct way to address such situations is to declare the injury attributable to service and also to endorse the element of negligence, if established beyond doubt which may or may not lead to any in-house punishment. Moreover, it is not for military authorities to decide whether such personnel should be entitled to pensionary benefits or not. The right to pension should not be held mortgage to a senior officer’s personal opinion, bias or prejudice. Entitlement Rule 13(a) and Pension Regulation 175 clearly provide that in case of negligence, the disability element of pension can be reduced, but not refused.

A recommended reading on the above subject would be a case decided by the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in the year 2009 titled Kuldeep Singh Vs UOI (CWP 9566 of 2008).


Anonymous said...

Navdeep I totally agree with you. These days more and more senior officers are taking decisions brashly ,when it comes to juniors. However the same decision making ability gets severely restricted when it comes to dealing with their civilian counterparts /ministers because in that situation it is their pension which may get affected.

EX Sgt Arumugam said...

You have embedded the term in Golden letters “attributability” with Entitlement Rule 13(a) and Pension Regulation 175.
A classical piece of entitlement rule will enlighten all those suffering this type cases. At the right time we got the right material for a Poor mother, who is longing for the Justice from the people who always shut the doors in the name of loyal to the Nation.
Ex Sgt M Arumugam

Anonymous said...

Well, did you make your point of view know to the Senior officer who was making the erroneous judgement call?

And did he accept it?

Synapse said...

Accidental Discharge, in most likely hood is an indication of poor training. Training is a function of command. Who tests certifies an individual capability in weapon handling? Who is responsible?

It would be incorrect to blame a jawan for lack of skills if he has not been provided training. Isn't employing a jawan for non-military duties is at the cost of training?

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep,
I think the senior officer is absolutely stupid.If the sepoy has handled the weapon negligently,it means his training was not adequate and proper.
Unfortunately,in the services,we have rules which are archaic.In the civistreet,if a person meets with an accident during his leave,the injury is attributable to service but in the dence forces,it is not.
No one,No one gets himself injured or meets with an accident intentionally,unless he is trying to commit suicide.
I think,it is high time,the defence forces changed their various rules to keep up with modern times.

Olive Greens Panchkula Chandigarh said...

Injury while handling a service weopon is definitely attributable to military service. Accidents do happen for whatever be the reason, such incidents should be handled not with a narrow viewpoint of being lakir ke fakir but with a large heart

Anonymous said...

Maj Navdeep Sir
You are absolutely right an error of judgement does not deprive you of your terminal benfits of service. A pilot goes down with the plane leaving only conjectures as to what went wrong and how? but his demise is attributable... and so on.

major pp singh bathinda

Col NR Kurup said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,

Throughout my service, I have been maintaining my own view that once a soldier or officer join the defence forces he is always on duty. Whatever he does is attributable to service. I had even gone to the extend that he is on military duty even while on casual and annual leave. I can convince this view to any one. All types of court of Inquiry to which I was a party both as a member as well as Presiding Officer I used to reword the incident as well as statements in such a way that the findings has to be injury sustained is attributable to service. Now that 24 years have passed since my retirement I can say that I used to ensure it.

We do have far too many rules entrusted in the custody of Babus to use against soldiers. Our aim should not be to strengthen those babu's hands to penalise soldiers; but make the cases in such a way that the babus are left with no option but to give all benefits to the soldiers. I have been doing this throughout my service very successfully.

I have been coming across my colleagues and seniors not fully in agreement with me; but throughout my service I could convince even those saddists and ensure that the soldier does not loose financially. I was too meticulous in case of death of soldier where the benefit goes to his family.

I wish I could participate in the above discussion so that I can convince them my view.