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Friday, December 21, 2012

And Yes, while WE sleep......

 With many aspects of personnel policies, pensionary provisions and administrative issues delegated by the Govt to the military establishment, one had hoped things would improve, with more sensitivity being brought into the system, especially since peers would be dealing with cases of their brethren thereby ensuring a humane and meticulous approach in dealing with the problems of military veterans and their families, especially disabled soldiers and widows.

But I don’t think we are getting the message.

Things are bad.

Where is the problem? The problem lies in the lack of basic understanding of administrative issues and even a miniscule application of mind. To top that, there’s this egotistic lakeer ke fakeer attitude and lack of moral courage to admit any wrongdoing.

I would not be exaggerating in saying that about 25% of our veterans and military widows, as on date, are not in receipt of their correct entitlements. The problem is not single layered and is a resultant of a labyrinth of negativity let loose by the Record Offices, account bodies and Pension Disbursing Authorities. Even the system of provisioning information under the RTI Act is collapsing, and Public Information Officers and also the Appellate Authorities are not even aware of basic provisions of law. What pains me more is not the impediments created by external bodies, but by our own, the kind reflected in my OPed on the subject earlier this year.

While some Record Offices such as those of the Sikh Regiment, the Armoured Corps, the Mechanized Infantry and the Sappers go out of their way to help out their soldiers and families, others such as the Punjab Regiment and Artillery Records leave much to be desired in their approach and a major gap between what can be legitimately expected and what is practically done on ground.

In vein of some posts of this kind, I would like to share some examples of what I say above so that it is not just labelled hearsay:

1. The case of Pawittar Singh: This Gunner was released from service on the grounds of conviction in a civil case. He sought details under the RTI Act on the policy dealing with the reinstatement or notional reinstatement of individuals who are discharged or dismissed on the basis of conviction but are later honourably acquitted by the Court of law, and other factual details regarding his own case. At first, the Artillery Records Office asked him to get his signatures on the RTI Application attested from the Sarpanch of his village, of course a procedure unknown and alien to law. Still, in order to avoid delay, he submitted his application again alongwith attestation from his Sarpanch, but this time his application was rejected on the pretext that the information sought by him is not related to public interest. Imagine, seeking a copy of a Govt policy and details of his own case not being related to public interest. Where does the man go? Record Offices do not reply to regular letters written to them, information under the RTI Act is stonewalled with banal excuses. What would be the outcome of this, the veteran would be forced into litigation, first making rounds of the Information Commission since the information has been denied, and then when he gets the information, he would be forced to approach the competent judicial forum to seek relief. Who gains by this?

2. The case of Ex-Hav Harbans Singh: Again of the Artillery Records. The soldier had sought a copy of his Release Medical Board under the RTI Act but the copy that was provided was blank where the attributability/aggravation of disability is mentioned and also where the percentage of disability is recorded. When he pointed this out in detail again to the Records office, another reply has been received in which the concerned Records Officer without even caring to properly read the letter has mechanically replied that the RMB has already been provided. Where does this man go? To the Central Information Commission at Delhi, thereby waiting for another one year? And why? Because one clerk sitting at the Records Office failed to read simple English and the concerned Records Officer simply affixed his signatures on a reply prepared by a clerk?

3. The case of Territorial Army personnel of Punjab Regiment invalided out of service: TA personnel who are invalided out of service with attributable/aggravated disabilities are entitled to disability benefits including rounding-off of disability element of pension which is explicitly mentioned in the Govt of India letter dated 31-01-2001 itself, the said letter also clearly makes it applicable to TA personnel. However, the clerical staff of Punjab Regimental Records is not processing the claims of disability benefits of such personnel on the pretext that TA personnel are not entitled to such benefits. The biggest tragedy is that even the office of the PCDA(P) has reportedly telephonically asked the concerned Records Office to properly process the claims of disabled TA personnel but to no avail. A personal letter written by me to the Commandant/OIC Records has also elicited no reply and it seems that nobody wants to apply mind and redress the grievance. It is yet another story that other Record Offices are properly processing similar claims and the PCDA(P) is resultantly issuing the requisite Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) without any problem whatsoever. Where does this lead the affected disabled personnel? Rounds of Courts? Isn’t this unwanted litigation? In yet another case of another disabled invalided Sepoy of the Regular Army from the Punjab Regiment named Harjinder Singh, the soldier has been asked to submit a form for claiming rounding-off benefits whereas the soldier is a post-96 retiree and the format is only applicable to pre-96 retirees since the system of rounding-off was initially implemented only for post-96 retirees with effect from 01-01-1996 and was then extended to pre-96 retirees in 2010. The paper chase with the Records Office of one of the oldest regiments continues for this soldier too.

4. The case of Sep Surender Singh of the JAT Regiment: This Sepoy was invalided out but not granted disability pension. Thereafter, the AFT directed the grant of disability pension to him which was then implemented by the Govt after which a PPO was duly issued with a copy endorsed to the Records Office. However the PPO contained an incorrect date of implementation and grant of arrears. The PPO and the Govt sanction had also directed for a Re-Survey Medical Board (RSMB) before 16 July 2012 for continuance of disability pension. The individual therefore sought information regarding this mistake in the PPO from the Records Office which resulted in denial of pension for 10 years’ period. However strangely the Records Office replied that they did not have the record of any such PPO issued in the individual’s name. Needless to say, the Govt sanction was itself processed by the Records Office and it became clear from the copy of the PPO that it was very much forwarded to the Records Office. When the office of the PCDA(P) was further contacted as to why disability element had not been continued beyond July 2012, they replied that they had not continued the disability pension beyond the date since the Records Office had not forwarded the papers or any claim for disability pension to them. The soldier as on date remains without disability element of pension despite a Court order and acceptance by way of a Govt sanction and the Records Office even denies the existence of his PPO or medical board in his file. Where does he go? More litigation?

5. Personnel of ecological battalions of Territorial Army affiliated with Garhwal Rifles: TA personnel are entitled to pension after rendering 15 years of embodied (colour/physical service) without exception. However, personnel of ecological TA battalions were being denied this pension by the Records office of the Garhwal Rifles even on completing 15 years of embodied service on the pretext of an Army HQ letter of the year 2003 which stated that since ecological units were sponsored by Ministry of Environment and Forests, personnel serving on the strength of Eco TA units were not entitled to pension from the defence ministry. Needless to state, the Govt had never issued any such prohibition for such personnel. This controversy later got resolved when the Army HQ in 2007 clarified the issue by withdrawing the earlier communication and by stating that pension is admissible to such personnel also and there was no such prohibition imposed by the Govt. A similar clarification was issued by the CGDA too. Despite the fact that the Army HQ letter issued later has been pointed out to the Records Office of Garhwal Rifles, the Records Office continues to reject claims based on the outdated letter issued in 2003. Who gains by this? Isn’t it incumbent upon the Records Office to simply apply mind and read what is provided in letters issued by competent authority?

6. RTI Appellate Mechanism at the Army HQ: Usually, the PIO of the Army at the Army HQ is very prompt and efficient in providing information. However, the problem is that the PIO is dependent upon other directorates for information and at times the correct information is not received for further dissemination. Most of the times when proper information is not received and the appellate authority (Provost Marshall) is approached under Section 19 of the RTI Act, a similar sounding non-speaking mechanical  order is received by most inter alia stating the following:-

“And now therefore after having perused all records and after hearing views of nodal offices, I find that adequate available information has already been provisioned by the CPIO vide letter…..”

Of course, as per actual law, the Appellate Authority is supposed to deal with the grounds raised by the appellant, discuss the points of disagreement and pass a detailed order providing reasons for his decision and not just mechanically agree with what has been done. A recent live case is one in which on 20-07-2012 information was sought similar to Para (1) above wherein the policy on reinstatement/notional pension to those personnel who are dismissed on the basis of conviction and later acquitted was sought from the Army HQ under the RTI Act. Rather than providing this policy, the PIO at the Army HQ on 26-09-2012 provided a completely different policy dealing with suspension of pension of military pensioners. This was appealed against by the Appellant on 05-10-2012 but the Appellate Authority on 19-11-2012 without even applying mind on what had been asked for and what had been given or considering what had been stated in the appeal before him, has mechanically decided the case stating that “adequate information” had been provided by the CPIO. The Appellate Authority also directed the Discipline and Vigilance Directorate to provide a copy of a note submitted by the said Directorate to the Appellate Authority with annexures to the appellant. But readers would be surprised with what that note was. That note was a copy of a letter dealing with delegation of administrative powers to the Services HQ with no link whatsoever with the subject of the information sought. So what was sought, what was provided by the PIO and what was then provided by the DV Directorate were three different things and the Appellate Authority seems oblivious of what he has been made to sign! What is the ultimate net result? Moving the information commission for a two-paged policy which simply could have been provided had the concerned officers cared to just read the RTI Application or could be simply made available to the public at large on the official website of the organization. Alas even the Appellate Authority is functioning in a perfunctory manner unaware of what is coming before him and what he’s signing and is not being provided the adequate administrative or legal assistance as is most required in such situations.

The aim of highlighting some of above instances is not to pinprick but to make the environment realize how their lack of knowledge, interest and basic application of mind is hitting us hard. An earlier case of Surjit Kaur whose husband serving with the pre-independence Punjab Regiment was declared as a soldier of the Burmese Army adequately rounds up how sensitive issues are dealt with.

These were just a few examples of recent times which I had the unfortunate privilege of perusing, there are thousands more, crying out for barest of sensitivity, but the shrieks go unheeded.

Do something.

Wake up. 


PBOR said...

patthar hai khudaa- patthar ke sanam- patthar ke hii inasaan paae hain
tum shahar-e-mohabbat kahate ho- ham jaan bachaake aae hain :-)

ninihala said...

I can tell you, Arty Records is a den of corruption and bribery of the highest magnitude. Arty jawans, serving or retired have to pay bribe even for adjustment of simplest pt II orders. I can cite a case where a jawan's DO II for OSL, rejoining and punishment was published on same sheet of paper but Arty Records took cognisance of OSL but not of rejoining and punishment. Jawan was w/o pay for 2 months and when I corresponded with Arty Records, they replied that rejoining and punishment has not been recd by them. I had to write a nasty letter to CO Records pointing out that all have been pub on same sheet of paper. That also did not get the desired result. Ultimately I had to go their myself to get dues of my Jawan. I could do it, being loc in Deolali, how many other COs are in such posn?
Source of problem is SL Record Offrs who are nothing but glorified clerks. Time has come to do away with this entry.

Harry said...

Dear Sir,

I have just following laconic statement to make:-

"We are our BIGGEST enemies, babus NOT excepted!"

Anonymous said...

can someone throw some light on disability pension for ssc officers who compleate terms of engagement

uday said...

I am Ex Hav Davinder Singh, sos from EME on 31/3/2011. I have requested/asked some information through RTI Act from EME Records. But in the reply they write a base less information. After that I have again write to Appellate authority for the specific info. After that part info received from then. Basically info asked about my MACP amount which is due wef 01 Sep 2008. If is surprising that on receipt of my RTI, then EME Records published my MACP DO II on 03 Sep 2012.

After that I also approached to PAO (OR) EME on the issue for adjustment of MACP arrears wef 01 Sep 2008 to 31 Mar 2011. I am very thankful and appreciating the PAO (OR) EME Staff that they are released the Tender memo within 10 days after publishing the DO II (i.e. on 14 Sep 2012.)

This is for your info that EME Records has not been remittance the my arrear amount Rs. 108383/- after lapes of three month and I have received a reply from EME Records on 09 Dec 2012 under which they stating that two to three month is time taking to remittance the amount.

This is not only pertain to me but all the Other rank retired after 01 Sep 08 onwards. They all are suffering in the same.

Sir, can you advise me who is responsible for the interest of our money laying with the organisation.

Because our corr ppo amount also in the govt treasury which is a hug amount.


Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...


I shouldn't be saying this but there is something drastically wrong with the Artillery Records and the way they deal with their own soldiers.

Also, please randomly pick up soldiers with about 10+ years of service from any Arm and ask them whether they had ever given bottles of rum to babus in the unit or the Records Office, and we would get our answer as to how things are functioning.

Having dealt with thousands of cases of veterans and widows, from personal experience I can say that the Arty, Punjab and EME Record Offices are not being fair to their people. But it is for their own senior officers to wake up and stem the rot. Colonels of Regiments or Colonel Commandants should rise to the occasion rather than only behave like de facto Military Secretaries bothered only in postings and transfers.

Anonymous said...

Another example of how we harm ourselves -

In calculating composite disability for two non overlapping disabilities ( i.e. functionally unrelated disabilities) Govt of India brought out an -
AMENDMENT TO CHAPTER VI & VII : GUIDE TO MEDICAL OFFICERS (MILITARY PENSIONS) published by Ministry Of Defence, Government Of India, New
Delhi in Sep 2008.
Para 17 A (i) of this amendment reads “ Where there are two or more disabilities due to service, compensation will be based on the composite assessment
of the degree of disablement. Generally speaking, when separate disabilities have entirely
different functional effects, the composite assessment will be the arithmetical sum of
their separate assessments. But where the functional effects of the disabilities overlap, the
composite assessment will be reduced in proportion to the degree of overlapping. There is
a tendency for some Medical Boards to reduce the composite assessment in the former
group of cases. This is not correct.”

For functionally unrelated disabilities as per the aforesaid GoI amendment, the composite disability should have been the ARITHMETIC SUM.
Unfortunately mandarins at o/o DGAFMS changed this within 15 months of issue of this amendment & brought in their own warped reasoning not to calculate the ARITHMETIC SUM, but to do so by a unique formula whereby the composite disability actually comes down.
This has already put innumerable retiring personnel at a financial disadvantage since Dec 2009, in the form of a lower overall disability percentage.
The culprit is not the Govt of India or bureaucrats but our very own bureaucrats at o/o DGAFMS.

Yogi said...

Name them to shame them!

Synapse said...

I so much wish someone really looked into welfare of troops. Speaking of welfare of troops and "showing concern" has long become a fashion at the higher levels. What they were always interested in was their own welfare. True doing something which is true welfare for troops and you would find you are stepping upon someone's toes.

I feel so helpless at times and wish could walk up and simply give a tight slap to people who act as impediments - at least it will make me feel better.

Anonymous said...

Ur comments about a particular cadre of officers is unwarranted, slanderous and depicts ur deranged mindset. Please desist from such comments. Mind you, you were not born and brought up in Sandhurst with golden dagger in ur mouth or ?????

PBOR said...

Navdeep & Ninihala, problem is graver. in some cases even bottles are sponsored from unit funds to get a job done from supporting orgs

Anonymous said...

I woould like to share that of course Record Officer should be out from record office but is there any alternative to this. None of the other officer or as u said glorified clerk can take on load. This is a challenge job and thankless job. You change and see in another 10 years no advance ppo can be issued.

Anonymous said...

One positive organisational step. disabled cadet to get commission.

Anonymous said...

How can one expect our tps to remain honest when they have to pay huge bribe at the time of recruitment and then eveytime for adjustment of part 2 orders. Standard of Sr offrs has gone down drastically due to promotion policies of Army. They are only intrested in those which affect them like politicians.I suggest record offices should be disbanded and unit should prepare paybills. One auditors can be posted to each unit/ station if reqd. Postings can be handled by centres directly.

Anonymous said...

I have said earlier also that there is a requirement of educating the environment. The difference between Pay & Account Office and Record Office. Record Office at all not responsible for adjustment of pay and allowances of JCOs/OR. It is unfortunate that both are co-located. But it is a question why people go and pay huge bribe to PAO (OR) staff for adjustment or any clerk in Record Office for posting. Why they do not let the system work at its own speed. Time will come when no one will offer and ask any favour.

Anonymous said...

Please be informed, on any Part II Order concerning OSL, action with regard to imdt stoppage of pay & allces is taken by PAO (OR), who subsequently releases the pay on acting upon Rejoining occurrence. It is quite common of a delay of a month or two due to audit of Pt II Os and closing etc at their end. Record Office's resp is to act upon the rejoining, summary disposal of cases etc. Just for the reason that someone was punished for his OSL doesnot entitle him his Pay & Allces for that period (please get ur facts clear from the lego Maj Navdeep). The onus is on PAO (OR) and your diatribe against a valiant "perceived fight" with Arty Records is a figment of imagination and a slang to bolster your hits on this blog on your glorified COship. We are all "glorified" ....... in one form or another. You can have a nice time on this blog: but not by hurting a cadre with your unsavoury comments. Maj Navdeep, with so many PBOR cases to plead in courts and interaction with ROs, would agree to the utility of creating this cadre. It is very easy to cast aspersion on somebody; but please remember the rules for posting comments. We have personal details of your glorious COship at Deolali and it wont be nice reading. Our endeavour should be to discuss about various evils and pitfalls of the system and remedies thereon. Yes, disband the Record Offices and u be the OIC of Indian Record Offices and a more glorified Babu to bring in the much needed improvement. Join Arvind Kejriwal, he desperately needs more and more egomaniacs.

Anonymous said...

Pensions for officers is also equally bad. My father a Colonel retired in 1994. The PPO had mentioned the maiden name of wife (my mother) whereas the forms submitted before retiring bore the married name!! At that time he wrote to Army HQ & CDA (Pensions) to change maiden name of his wife to married name and attached all required documents. Since then till July 12 he gave numerous reminders but there was no reply. My father expired in Sep 12 and now my mother is not getting family pension due to this sloppiness by our organisation. I have again applied for change of name & an amended PPO and hope it will be issued shortly, though it is already 3 months since then. The AGs branch is now showing the correct name. God knows why its taking so long for CDA Pensions to amend or issue a fresh PPO.

Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...

Ref the discussion above.

Please be careful what you say about cadres and individuals.

Let us keep the focus on the issue at hand.

Any more such comments would be strictly moderated.

Anonymous said...

dear navdeep- i have heard that the merger of all the SL cat and sco cadre is likely to take place in 2013. if so then please throw some light on the issue.

ninihala said...

I standby everything I wrote, notwithstanding the vitriolic attack, which in any case was expected. I knew that by pointing out malpractices in Arty Records, as elsewhere, I would disturb a hornets nest. Regardless, truth must be stated. Stating truth can never be ground for libel.
SL cadre is a support cadre and must continue to support the tps, till I manage to have it disbanded.

Unknown said...

Respected Sir I'm 80% disabled son of JC-56647 Late Sub Mukat Behari Lal who expired on 09 Jul 2005. Since than I am struggling for my Family Pension with EME records c/o 56 APO and CDA(Pension ) Allahabad.All the documents/certificate/verification has been send to them so many times as per their requirements. Last letter No JC-56647/FP-1Pen dated 02 Jul2012 of EME Records PIN 900453 was send to PCDA(P) G-4Sec GP-II Allahabad with copy to me.NO PPO has been finalized till date.May I request your good offices to look into the matter personally.Otherwise I have to sit in front any mandir\gurudwara sahib for begging.
Mr Mukesh s/o Late Sub Mukat Behari Lal c/o Ranvijay Singh
Behind Govt Hosp Raun
Dist bhind MP

vikram said...

U r correct Navdeep Sir, Actually Records Office should be removed. They did not know their job, becoz all soldiers(JCOs/OR) are depend on them (Record Office) for their correct adjustment of Pay & Allowances.

Records Office aur PAO(OR) ke karan JCOs/OR ka service ka 1/2 paisa sarkar ke paas rah jata hai. Who is responsible for this

Anonymous said...

Kudos to all above ante Record Office comments offered by our own brother officers. Please try to understand functioning of records office first. Pliz pay visit to one of the records near to you. Dont meet Record Officer and have tea there. Go to a particular table, see the job and reliase. How many of us visits record offices in our entire tenure of service, Except when our own buddy or some relative is affected and we try to convience the dealing staff to go out of way. WHAT IS OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THIS ORG? We only know about Record Office when we are CO. Do we know how many types of Pension are there, how the gratuity is calculated, what efforts have to be put in to ensure a man gets his pension on the first day of his retirement and a widow gets her pension benefits. Please come out this old mental savvy about giving of rum and bribes. If any one of you know such incidents and didnot reported then you are the most responsible man.If it is hearsay please come out and help reords to do better. Meet CO/CRO personally and give your views. Meet OIC Records who is of course your regimental officer. It is you who can make the org better or the worse. Give a thought or do project your idea for disbanment of Record Office or volunteer yourself for posting to Record Offices instead of postings to other places. All records Offices are located in good places. Gud luck.

Harry said...

@ Navdeep, I completely second your view. We CANNOT accept random & unqualified opinions about any cadre. As far as the management of Record Offices is concerned, automation has gone a long way in resolving numerous issues. Networking has enabled unprecedented transparency.

Unknown said...

Dear sir after 45yrs my mother got justice from aft Delhi.my father was med.board out in 1970,but no pension.Now in July 2015,my widow mother won the case.pension allotted,but Arty record denied saying your name in our record is Agemaro not ajmero.Some dead minded cleark in 1970 sitting in record office has ruined whole life of my old age parents by writing wrong spelling.In pension waiting my father was expired in 1993 leaving eight children behind him.janakrajsaini74@gmail.com,from New Delhi