I do not personally agree with the manner adopted by Kejriwal in parading a former commando in front of TV cameras with his woes. I may not agree, but others may, and that is just my own humble opinion.
However, if the allegation of delay in release of pension for 14 months after invalidation is true, then it is unforgivable. If the delay was actually there then it should have been admitted by the system rather than putting out a morbid PIB press release which confuses the issue for the public at large to consume. It is yet another matter that though the official press release talks a lot about the enormous benefits released, it does not state as to whether there was a delay in the grant of pension or not or the date of release of the person from service and the date when the pension was released.
It has been oft repeated that delay in release of pension, especially for disability pensioners, is due to the internal procedures involved and regularly happens in many cases. But is this correct? Or are there guidelines governing the issue?.
What the PIB press release and the official establishment do not want to come to light is the provisions of Paragraph 19 of Appendix C of Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army) Letter No B/40122/MA(P)/AG/PS-5 dated 20 July 2006 which clearly provides that the Release/Invaliding Medical Board (RMB/IMB) is supposed to be conducted 8 months prior to release and the approval is to be granted within 1 month of the RMB/IMB and then adjudication is to take place within 3 months of RMB/IMB and sent to the office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) who is then supposed to issue a Pension Payment Order (PPO) within 1 month of the receipt of the claim. Hence in normal circumstances, the PPO for disability / war injury pension is to be issued 3 months prior to discharge/invalidation. The delay, if any, can only happen in cases involving rejection of claims of attributability resulting in a fresh medical board and in that case too, in accordance with the period prescribed, the PPO is to be issued about 15 days prior to release from service.
Keeping in view the above mentioned procedure already codified as an SOP, any delay is unacceptable, especially in the case of the NSG commando, and neither it should be defended nor condoned. The correct way out for the Govt or the Army was to fix responsibility as to who were the persons involved in the delay. People sitting in bureaucratic chairs do not realize and cannot fathom that being out of service how these disability pensioners would survive or feed their families till the time pension is released, how would they receive medical care since many would not know that ECHS Medical Cards are not issued to disability pensioners till the time the disability pension PPO is issued.
The delay is nothing new. Thousands of claims are languishing with the Personnel Services Directorate and the Pension wing of the MoD for resolution and adjudication. Appeals are also delayed inordinately resulting in perpetuation of sufferings of the disabled. A live case handled by me just a few days ago was of an invalided Captain who was released in the year 2000 but has received his Pension Payment Order (PPO) for his complete service benefits now, in November 2012. And that too, not with the help of the system, but through the help of a mere RTI Application. It is yet another matter that the Supreme Court has laid down that pension should be released forthwith on the date of retirement and that any delay in release of pension should be penalized with interest at market rates.
We’ve been saying this on this blog since long and all of us have been playing our small little roles but there is much to do.
To put it succinctly, the Govt should not just unnecessarily rebut what is now coming out in public light, it should resolve these issues rather than retorting with mindless egoistic press releases.