Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Enhancement of Pensions : orders for civilian pensioners also issued today

Close on the heels of the orders for enhancement of pensions issued for defence retirees, the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) has issued similar orders for civilian pensioners today.

The pension for civilian pensioners would now not be less than 50% of the minimum of pay within the pay band (minimum of fitment table) rather than the minimum of the pay band itself, plus of course the applicable Grade Pay.

Though the orders have been issued in pursuance of the cabinet approval granted to the report of the committee of secretaries, it is actually in line with the judgement of the Central Administrative Tribunal for civilian pensioners and the Armed Forces Tribunal for defence pensioners.

Of course while the above judgements have granted the financial benefit with effect from 01 January 2006, the government has granted it from 24 Sep 2012, which is prima facie illogical since when an anomaly is rectified, it is to be rectified from the date of the inception of the particular anomaly and not from a future artificial date.

Much credit goes to Mr V Natarajan, President Pensioner’ Forum, Chennai, for continuing the fight for civilian pensioners. I’m sure in light of the fact that we’ve reached till here, justice to the fullest extent should not now be too far.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Another landmark judgement on pension by the Apex Court

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has rendered yet another detailed landmark judgement on pensionary matters on 17 January 2013.

The SC has once again held that there can be no cut-off dates in pensionary matters, in the sense that two sets of retirees cannot be treated differently without there being a just objective.

In the instant case, the SC has held that the observation of the Division Bench of the High Court which had dismissed the pensioners’ petitions stating that retirees retiring after a particular cut-off date were only getting “a little higher” pension, was clearly not in order.

This is how the SC has dealt with the above:-

“…First and foremost, it needs to be understood that the quantum of discrimination is irrelevant to a challenge based on a plea of arbitrariness, under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.  Article 14 of the Constitution of India ensures to all, equality before the law and equal protection of the laws.  The question is of arbitrariness and discrimination.  These rights flow to an individual under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.  The extent  of  benefit  or  loss  in  such  a  determination  is  irrelevant  and inconsequential. The extent to which a benefit or loss actually affects the person concerned, cannot ever be a valid justification for a court in either granting or denying the claim raised on these counts.  The rejection of the claim of the appellants by the High Court, merely on account of the belief that the carry home pension for employees who would retire after 1.6.1988, would be trivially lower than those retiring prior thereto, amounts to bagging the issue pressed before the High Court….”

The SC has struck down the cut-off date of 01-06-1988 which obviously results in grant of full and equal benefits with arrears with effect from 01-06-1988 to the affected pensioners.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TV Panel discussion on the functioning of the Armed Forces Tribunal and state of military justice

Following is a detailed TV panel discussion on the functioning of the Armed Forces Tribunal and administration of justice in the defence services in general, and of course, way and means to further improve the system. This comes in wake of two important judgements on the subject.

The panelists were Maj Navdeep Singh, Mr Rajeev Anand and Col SK Aggarwal.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Detailed instructions issued to Pension Disbursing Agencies to immediately release enhanced pension in accordance with Govt of India letters issued in pursuance of cabinet decisions

Detailed instructions by way of circulars have already been issued to Pension Disbursing Agencies, including all banks and Defence Pension Disbursing Officers, to release the enhanced pension in accordance with the latest Govt of India letters.

The instructions can be accessed and downloaded as follows.

As requested earlier, kindly do not seek clarifications from me through email on these modalities, and doubts or queries may kindly be raised only in the comments section. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

(Updated) Committee of Secretaries Report, as approved by the Cabinet, implemented. Letters issued today.

The below mentioned letters have been issued today by the Ministry of Defence to improve the pensionary benefits of defence personnel in pursuance to the report submitted by the Committee of Secretaries as approved by the Cabinet.

The financial benefit of all these letters has been provided from 24 September 2012.

1. Improvement in pension of pre-2006 released Honorary Officers, JCOs and other ranks: Pensionary weightages have been increased for Sepoy, Naik and Havildar to 12, 10 and 8 years respectively. The pensions of Honorary commissioned officers have also been increased. Fresh tables have been notified. The letter can be downloaded by clicking here. 

2. Increase in pension and family pension in case of commissioned officers: The pension and family pension of commissioned officer retirees has been enhanced based on the minimum of the fitment table (+ Grade Pay + Military Service Pay) rather than the pay band itself. Fresh tables have been notified too. The letter can be downloaded by clicking here. 

3. Increase in family pension of post-2006 and also pre-2006 JCOs and other ranks: Changes have been incorporated in the family pensionary modalities of both pre as well as post 2006 cases. The pre-2006 letter can be accessed by clicking here and the post-2006 letter can be accessed here. 

4. Improvement in Casualty Pensionary Awards for pre-2006 commissioned officers, JCOs and other ranks: Minimum guaranteed Special Family Pension, Liberalized Family Pension, Dependant Pension (Special) and Second Life Awards shall now be determined on the basis of the minimum of fitment table for each rank as per the applicable Special Army/Navy/Air Force Instructions (+ Grade Pay + Military Service Pay + X Group Pay if applicable) rather than the minimum of the pay band itself. The letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

5. Improvement in Casualty Pensionary Awards for post-2006 JCOs and other ranks: Modalities of some casualty pensionary awards of post-2006 cases of JCOs and other ranks have also been changed. The letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

6. Improvement in pensionary benefits of post-2006 released JCOs and other ranks: Weightages of pension for the ranks of Sepoy, Naik and Havildar increased to 12, 10 and 8 years and notionally been made applicable to post-2006 retirees also. Ordinary family pension also increased in the case of post-2006 JCOs and other ranks. The letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

7. Provisions of Dual Family Pension and Family Pension for life for handicapped family pensioners even in case of re-marriage: Letter for eligibility of dual family pension in case of families of pensioners who were drawing two pensions or were eligible to draw two pensions, and also letter clarifying the eligibility of a handicapped family pensioner even in case of remarriage also issued. It however may be pointed out that both these benefits had already been granted by Hon’ble Courts in the past. For instance, this decision of the Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal, and this one of the Chennai Bench may be perused. While the Courts have granted these benefits from the date of eligibility, the letters issued carry financial benefits only from 24 September 2012.

Other letters, as soon as they are made available, shall be posted on the blog.

At the outset, it may be pointed out that many of the provisions incorporated are utterly confusing and chaotic, and it is duly hoped that the offices of the CGDA and PCDA(P) clarify the implementation modalities by way of detailed circulars. 

Any doubts or clarifications on the above may NOT please be directed towards me through email or phone and should be simply posted on the comments section of this blogpost. 

Thank You.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Judgement by the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court on the functioning of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)

Links to press-reports on the landmark decision of the High Court related to the functioning and independence of the AFT, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by me, as published by various newspapers, are provided below.

I thank everyone for wholeheartedly supporting me in this uphill, and actually continuing, task.