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Monday, February 27, 2012

Clarifications and new order on Children Education Allowance (CEA)

The DoPT has issued a clarification with regard to some persisting points of controversy related to the Children Education Allowance (CEA).

The said clarification can be accessed by clicking here.

The DoPT, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, has also issued a fresh letter concerning the same subject carrying out certain amendments in the original OM on the subject.

The said amendment letter can be accessed by clicking here.

The earlier posts / clarifications on CEA available on this blog can also be accessed by clicking here. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Raging Bulls of the Defence Ministry (Updated)

An Indian woman buried her grandfather in the black hills.
When she was young, he used to tell her that these hills belonged to her still.
And even though injustice took those hills away, ‘one day we’ll get them back’ he would say, and the ‘sun is going to shine that day’.
When we say right the wrong.
Before she laid him down to rest, she heard his voice in the wilderness,
Saying ‘I got 6 feet of them back’, and now we can right the wrong.

    -Prince, Right the Wrong, 1997 (From Chaos & Disorder)


The raging bulls of the Ministry of Defence strike again.

Read (and see) more about the treatment meted to our war-injured and disabled soldiers :-

It is crystal clear that while the higher echelons of the Ministry of Defence are sympathetic to the needs and requirements of veterans, it is the lower level appointments which twist and turn everything that may otherwise be going in favour of former service-members, and unfortunately the top brass tends to over-rely on such staff and cannot look through the game.

With a new Secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW) at the helm who seems to be genuinely sensitive and is taking much more interest than his predecessor, let us hope for a better future. Though I would not like to sound pessimistic, but it’s nothing short of a mini-revolution that may ultimately be required to make the system accountable and to weed out the sadist elements from appointments at the cutting edge level. Be braced for tumultuous times ahead….

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Supreme Court interprets Section 122 of the Army Act

In a yet another judgement on the subject, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has quashed the directions for assembly of a General Court Martial (GCM) against an officer and has also set aside the judgement of the Lucknow Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal which had dismissed the said officer’s petition.

The officer was accused of irregularities in procurement of stores for a Central Ordnance Depot. The Commanding Officer hearing the charge had initially dismissed the charges under Rule 22 of the Army Rules as not having been proved, however the order was not accepted by the competent authority which directed recording of additional summary of evidence. Again it was found by the Commanding Officer that none of the charges stood. Yet again, setting aside the findings of the CO, the competent authority directed that the officer be tried by a GCM. The offence came to the knowledge of the authority competent to convene the Court Martial in May 2007 while the final orders convening the Court Martial were passed by the said authority in August 2010.

The Court Martial was convened but challenged on limitation under Section 122 by the accused officer. The plea was accepted by the Court Martial. However, the convening authority once again set aside the findings and directed the Court Martial to proceed with the trial. The AFT also ultimately upheld the decision to convene the Court Martial based on earlier judgements of the Supreme Court in the cases of VN Singh and JS Sekhon.

The SC has however distinguished the said judgements and has held in a detailed judgement rendered yesterday (15 Feb 2012) that in those cases the dispute was as to who was the competent authority to order the Court Martial, which was not the controversy in the case at hand and hence the GCM was clearly barred by limitation.

The Court in its judgement has also observed the light punishment handed to other accused in the same case including a non-recordable censure awarded to a Major General. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

A welcome beginning : Indian Veterans for Democracy

Col Ashok K Singh has forwarded me a brief of an organisation conceptualised by him, the ‘Indian Veterans for Democracy’.

According to Col Singh, the IVD is an organisation formed to enable participation of military veterans in the political system of our nation and that too without being affiliated to any political party.  

Full details on the concept and the mission are available on the IVD facebook page which can be accessed by clicking here.

The organisation has also prepared a detailed awareness note on the election manifestoes of various political parties and their promises to veterans. The organisation can be contacted at veteransfordemocracy [at] gmail [dot] com

Some of the areas where the organisation plans to work on are being reproduced below verbatim, without amendment, for the benefit of the readers of the blog :-

Constitutional Reforms

1. Carry out constitutional amendments to include ‘Resettlement and Welfare of Military Veterans’ in the concurrent list of VII Schedule of the Constitution. Presently our constitution is silent on it. The subject is not even mentioned making it the duty of the state to re-settle veterans which is the norm in most of the democratic countries. The passing of such acts and rules will make it an obligatory constitutional responsibility of the state (both at centre and state) to ensure resettlement and job security to all ranks of veterans, war widows and depends. 

2. Bring required provisions for management of ‘War and Peace’ and all other related subjects as mentioned in the first list of the VII Schedule of the constitution. Presently there are no such provisions in our constitution leaving it totally to the executive of the state without any provision for parliamentary interference. Ours is the parliamentary democracy where it reigns supreme. Leaving a subject like war (where in very survival of the state may be jeopardised) totally to the executive without any control of parliament is just too dangerous a situation. US and other democracies have such provisions. Such provisions will strengthen the democracy and bring better management of war and defence of India.

Legal Reforms

3. Accordingly pass military veteran resettlement and welfare act and rules (on similar lines as USA, UK and other countries) and implement it at centre and state levels to ensure job and settlement assurance to all ex-servicemen including short service commission and woman officers, disabled and homeless soldiers, war widows and dependents. Include provisions for considering military persons at par with central and state employee for giving jobs to their dependents in case of deaths. Such acts and rules are there in all democracies of the world. 

4. Amend Govt Business Rules accordingly and bring the subject under Ministry of Personnel and Human Resources Development. Place DGR under Ministry of HRD with concurrent relationship with Minster of Corporate Affairs as MOD is not capable enough to plan and implement such schemes effectively. 

5. Better would be to have an independent ministry as is the convention in most of the democracies and if not possible than create national and state commissions for military veterans on the lines of Minority or SC/ST commission at centre and states both. 

6. Promulgate Short Services Commissioned and Woman Officers Acts and Rules. The same shall include their assured resettlement and welfare provisions. 

7. In terms of Articles 309-313 of the constitution, promulgate ‘All India Defence Services Acts and Rules’ on the lines of Civil Services and All India Services Acts and Rules. Presently these provisions are in form of regulation (DSR) which have been issued by the ministry of Defence and leave lots of scope of misinterpretation causing sufferings. Such sensitive issues needs to be put in form of Acts and Rules in terms of Article 312 and 313 of our constitution with proper parliament sanctions. Such lateral absorption will also save lots of govt financial liabilities by correspondingly reducing civil intake in such vacancies.

Administrative Reforms

8. To keep the armed forces young and fighting fit, soldiers (including officers) retire at early age or are encouraged to take pre-mature retirements. In this case, it is the duty of the state to assure job to veterans up to the age of 60 like in the case of civil employees. Give job security to all serving Officers (regular and short service), JCOs and soldiers from all three services who retire before 60 years of age, by assured lateral entry into All India Services, Central Services, central and state govt services, railways, ordinance factories and PSUs in according to their length of service (equating with length of service of all civil jobs) and position. The same is the convention in most of democracies including US and UK. 

9. Bring a separate pay commission for armed forces and also give pension based on the principle of “One Rank One Pension”. 

10. Provide incentives to PSUs and corporates to encourage them to give employment to military veterans. Certain appointments in certain sensitive areas like telcom, transport, highways and defence industries by law to be occupied by ex-defence staff. 

11. Provide incentives in Govt contracts to corporates who have formed consortiums and JVs with military owned private companies.

12. Provide suitable relaxations (in terms of BG, EMDs, experience and size of company) for company owned by military veterans to help them bid in govt tenders.

13. Make suitable amendments in company laws to encourage companies to have military veterans as independent directors.

14. Provide invectives to military veterans owned companies in Govt procurement policies.

15. Provide sufficient loans on marginal interests with relaxed security and repayment terms for military veterans to start business. Suitable incubators be created to help veteran in starting the business. All military held venture be IT free for first 7 years from the start of the date of the project or 12 years from the date of retirements.\

16. Create veterans homes all across country for those who are left alone and helpless.

17 Create strong education and training support system in India and abroad (may be credit base as in US army) for serving officers and soldiers. All military training and education be given due education recognition (Post Graduate. Graduate, Diploma/ certificate)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An important ruling that got lost in the din

Well, an important judgement of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, that I wanted to share earlier, got lost in the mix somewhere.

The Haryana Government (and many others States too, it is learnt) had in effect a policy which discriminated between sons and daughters of ex-servicemen. The said policy provided that for the purposes of employment, married sons not having an independent source of income would be considered dependants for the purpose of issuance of a dependant certificate while married daughters would not be considered such even if not having any income. This had ostensibly been done by the Haryana Govt on the pretext that while a married son could be dependent on his father, a married daughter would not be since she would be dependent on her husband.

Not finding the above distinction reasonable and holding it to be unconstitutional, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has struck down the said clause and it has been held that both married sons and daughters, if not having independent means of livelihood, would be considered eligible for the issuance of the dependant certificate.

Many other strange stipulations of the Defence Services Welfare wing and the Sainik Board of the State of Haryana have in the past faced flak from the High Court.