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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The tiresome fight for the rights of our men & women in uniform and veterans

I’ve been receiving multiple messages and mails on the subject of Toll Tax exemption.

Apparently, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has issued a Circular stating that serving Military personnel would not be eligible for toll exemption in their private vehicles.

Needless to state, this circular issued by the MoRTH is in contravention of the provisions of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, and also against the clarification issued by the same Ministry in the year 2003 in consequence of a case filed by me wherein the following was ordained by the said Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Law & Justice:

“The matter was referred to Ministry of Law. Ministry of Law and Justice have indicated that Indian Tolls (Army and Air Force) Act 1901 is a special Act which overrides general acts such as National Highways Act, 1956 and private vehicles of the officers, soldiers and airmen of regular forces are exempted from paying toll irrespective of whether they are on duty or not.”

The above was followed by multiple clarifications and letters by various agencies on the subject.

The same Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had later also issued Letter No NH-11065/12/2003-P&M dated 15 Sept 04 to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) vide paragraph 1 of which it had clearly stated that private vehicles of defence personnel shall be exempted. The subject line of the letter also indicated that all categories of exemption under Section 3 of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, would fall under the definition of ‘defence vehicles’ which is an exemption term usually used on National Highways.


The subject was also adequately clarified on this blog through this blogpost.

Although I do appreciate the concern of all of you, especially serving personnel, on the subject and the anxiety in consequence of this latest illegally issued letter, but I would rather request you to look towards the Services Headquarters for resolution of your grievances.

I say so since I had communicated all material on the subject to all concerned including the Chief of the Army Staff, The Vice Chief, the Adjutant General and the Additional Director General Movement vide a detailed letter (Nav/Toll/Mov/2) in the year 2008 with fourteen annexures and the said authorities are now well equipped to take up cudgels for our men and women in uniform since they have the material to do so. In any case, it is the job of the three services to look after the interests of its personnel.

It is not that I do not empathize with the subject, but the last few years have resulted in an extreme form of dissatisfaction when I have discovered that while we keep fighting for the rights of our service-members and veterans, many of those in uniform tasked with protecting those very rights, incorrigibly stand in opposition of these causes. Believe me, it is a sad sight to see officers in uniform taking stands opposite of what we all stand for- justice and welfare for the military community, restoration of status, rights and privileges of our serving personnel. Yes, it is distressing and disheartening to see uniformed officers take hyper-technical objections and laugh and chuckle and rejoice on dismissal of rightful and genuine claims of soldiers, disabled veterans and widows in Courts forgetting that their prime duty is to assist the Courts or the system at arriving at justice and not to bludgeon the prayers of such people by hook or crook.

If some serving personnel of today are not wanting to reclaim their rights or to live a life of dignity with their equitable benefits guaranteed by law after retirement, if they want to only file appeals against decisions of Courts rendered in their favour rather than sounding the clarion call for change of anomalous and unjust policies, if they want to celebrate their own defeat, so be it.

It is tiresome to bang one’s head against a barricade that divides the just from the unjust.



33 comments:

COL LAMBA said...

service HQ are unable to put pressure on vital issues like OROP./NFU/ RANK PAY NON FIXATION OF 6th CPC/ REVISION OF COL/ BRIG PAY INSPITE OF SC DIRECTIVE,,,, HOW CAN THEY PUT PREESURE ON TOLL TAX,,, I HAVE RAED IN A PARA OD RIGHTS THAT EVEN RETIRED ARE EXEMPTED,, BUT ALL ARE PAYING

Anonymous said...

it is very unfortunate that our senior officers in uniform are not bothered to fight for the right. Rather they are very much worried about their status and ego. Recent Ahmedabad incident is an example.When I was posted in Bangalore, in 2010 a Brigadier took charge of General Manager of Bangalore Elevated Roadways immediately after his retirement. The first thing he has done was to charge the toll tax on all defence personnel private vehicles at NH4. I had a conversation with him over this issue and he was adament over the interpretation of Indian Toll Act 1905. It took me 3 days to collect all the relevant documents (credit to you only) and file an RTI against the company and asked them why I cannot file a contempt of court. Then only the Brigadier sahib withdrawn his orders. Shame fully We have such people those who enjoyed everything while in uniform and after retirement change their loyalty. I request you Navdeep sir, You are the only hope for our rights. We are all with you. Please do not feel embarrassed.

Vasundhra said...

'ENEMY WITHIN' in simple ENGLISH means 'SABOTEUR' In Indian history only one case can be sited is that of KING NAND of Nand Dynasty who used to steal from his own treasury like a common fraudster . Such things can be done only by those who sit on those appointments where the individual at the first instance never deserved to be there & the increase in frequency of such incidents directly implies that ORGANISATION has been hijacked by self centred elements whose only interest remains focused on self advancement. This happened in 320BC and it is happening today. There is no need to mince the words in simple language even the tilt in Services headquarter is towards sycophancy obviously abetted by such daft elements sitting in the ministry. ANY HOW IT IS NOT A MATTER OF CONCERN, in 320BC Maurayans sorted it out, in 1962 Chinese did the same and in very near future there is someone to give similar hard kick on the 'BUTTS'.

Shankar said...

When I took premature retirment from service, I was criticised by one and all that I am leaving a cushy job and a secure environment. This was in 2011. But today I am a relieved man. I am so happy outside that I am wondering why I was in the wrong place for 22 years. What I see from outside now, into the system which is supposed to help the retired and disabled lot, is a sickening operation to deny every single benefit in what ever possible manner. Simple letters are not answered to. If you go to the DAV office you encounter a series of "Go there, Go here, He is on leave, He is retired, JCDA is not co-operating etc." If you ask JCDA, you are given a rude "Go and ask DAV". Emails and website iafpensioners.gov.in do not work. Telephones are not answered. Shockingly the standard reply nowadays is, if you want send a RTI application. Where is this country headed to? People with whom you worked with and now sitting in positions from where they can help in replying do not do so quoting rules and regulations. Not realising that one day they will also be on the other side. I feel disgusted that I wasted 22 years of my life and today I am doing far better than I ever dreamt of. I do not even write Rank and (retd.) nowadays because when you do not feel proud of it then there is no use.

ravi said...

GOOD,Now the most effected people will be from NCR, let the persons on AHQ find solution or let hem pay through their nose as all officers are travelling in pvt cars and availing Transport allce.

Anonymous said...

True dear, the govt bureaucrats have been successful in turning the upright armed forces team into opportunistic individuals and this fragmentation is visible will be decisive only during testing times of war . Emulating Nero in Roma, till the time the flames reach our doors, we can keep playing our own tunes. A prayer to the God, "we are the intelligent soldiers and please save us from the war".

gcbramesh said...

@Shankar. Never ever feel ashamed of the org which had brought you up in 22 years. It was because(not despite) of your years in IAF, you must be doing well now in civil world. I agree that there are elements in IAF which/who need to be straightened out ASAP. All the best. Continue doing well.

Anonymous said...

Schadenfreude is an Indian Army trait.
What Shankar has said is exactly my situation and I am experiencing the same albeit with an Army background. But I still shall advise those with a sheep herd mentality that not many will survive to see such days if you come with the traits of tormenting anybody.

smadhan said...

Navdeep n all others r right and we have to fight this menace from out side only, while in uniform one is tied by so many rops which make it difficult even for a senior offrs to move a inch left or right. lastly most of the toll barriers r taken on contract by Army offrs who r not ready to leave any of their bit of additional profit.

Manuureet Singh said...

I cite yet another case which shows how the men in uniform are being cheated and yet the concerned authorities in service HQ inspite of being made aware are sitting tight lipped.
Army officers are reimbursed expenditure incurred on transportation of motor car on their permanent move / posting based on EVK rates of Indian Railways(IR) by PCDA(O), these being always the lowest in comparison Rd Mileage Allce (RMA) or actual expenditure under own propulsion or despatch under own arrangement.

IR to a RTI query had clarified vide letter No 46-T/Parcel/RTI dt 13 Apr 2012 that 4 wheeled EVK wagons used for transportation of cars had been discontinued from service by them about ten years ago. This fact along with proof was intimated to PCDA(O)in Aug 2012 and Addl Dte Gen of Mov.

The response from IR implies that rates of PCDA(O) are obsolete since year 2002, while the reimbursement on this account till today is still being done by PCDA(O) based on the obsolete rates due to which the officers are suffering financial loss on this account since year 2002. No action has been taken either by PCDA(O) or CGDA or service HQ to resolve this anomaly till date.
I request Maj Navdeep Singh to examine this issue also and see what best can be done about this.

rajat said...

Some wise man once said that you can get a horse to the water but you can't make it drink. It seems like despite efforts of people like Navdeep the service HQ are not learning anything. What surprises is who are the guys who are actually advising the so called seniors officers in the forces to take such decisions. Every decision is not the whim and fancy of senior officers, it just goes to show that the corrupted mindset is at advisory level which are much lower ranking officers. It is officers further away from retirement who don't realise that one day they will also retire those who are responsible to the sad state of affairs. The services badly are need of a Admin command which requires to be setup separately from the core branch heads. This command should only have people who have to formulate policy matters of admin nature which affect the serving and retired interest and have a legal cell to give correct inputs.

Anonymous said...

It is very unfortunate to army personnel and very adament of central govt to burden defence personnel. But i fully agree with your views regarding the Hq. Officers sitting in HQ have become boneless. They want to satisfy ego by harming other officers rather than finding peace in helping others. This is creating enviornment of distrust among rank and files of defence, and the result is clear in daily newss. Sir u are our only hope. When person loose all hope for justice then judiciary is only answer please do not let your effrts get wasted please fight for all. We all r with u sir. Regards

Anonymous said...

As long as we have enemies with in us we dont need any one from across the borders. Navdeep sir you are very true that there are lot of our own officers who become hurdles to our path and add to obstacles in fight for our rights. But at the same time sir like true soldiers we cannot give up. We have to fight both within and outside our organisation. So please dont give up. I know it is very disheartening but keep the fight on. We are all with you.

Anonymous said...

Sir,
The latest letter by MoRTH says that exemption is available only to persons who are on duty and does not pertain to retired personals. No exemption is available on use of private vehicles if it is not us for discharging any official purpose and duty. The exemption is available only on production of pass as specified in indian toll (army and air force) rules 1942.

This is in contrary to the indian toll (army and air force) rules 1942 which clearly states that all serving personnels does not require pass . Pass is required for special case exemptions other than those mentioned in section 3 of indian toll( army and air force) act 1901.

Anonymous said...

Navdeep, you have done more than any one individual (in or out of uniform) for the rights of defence personnel. And you are right in leaving somethings at least for the senior leadership to fight for. It's just that, they are completely emasculated. I find a stark ignorance of civil structures and hierarchy amongst the senior leadership. This ignorance translates as fear. Hence, they simply try and stay within the cocoon of comfort that the forces provide them. While the babus (and lowly ones at that) steadily whittle away our safeguards.

Anonymous said...

This has much to do with the lack of intellect being developed in our officers during their training and service. Here is an article by Irfan Husain in DAWN on his interaction with Pakistani Army officers.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1073148/clothes-maketh-the-man

Pakistani Army men do a lot of good for their own kind unlike on the Indian side.

MAGNUS said...

Boss we have to expose these bastards in uniform. A lot of them are back stabbers

MAGNUS said...

Well stated

Anonymous said...

My dear Navdeep sir,
Really disheartening to see you give up. Though am too young to advice, still would like to motivate you keeping the interest of the org and goodness of your cause in mind. Please remember the fact that if the badness of others effect my goodness, me too become a bad man. Your fight is for the men in uniform and it can be against anyone who comes in the way. And if the opponent is another man in uniform, so be it. Let the unfortunate rival loose as we in uniform the men with conscience are never wrong and don't blv in loosing... Cause there's no runners up in war. Please continue your strive.. don't worry about the parasites who are against you, you can't imagine how many of us are with you. Hope you blv me and don't lve us alone at the mercy of those who are not concerned.
Regards

Arun Prakash Ambathy said...

Sir any links to the circular or any copy of the circular.
There is nothing on the MoRTH website.
http://morth.nic.in/index.asp?lang=1

Anonymous said...

Dear Maj NS, Pl dont give up you are the only one who care. All the other comments said it all. There is no hope in the org, the system and the MoD itself. Everyone is for his/her interest only. Only God can save this country and the Armed Forces or Tri-Services.

Regards, Maj SK.

Anonymous said...

sir,
what is further course of action which can be taken by an individual in this regard as the circular is illegal as it is against supreme Court instructions. Further i would like you to understand limitation of regular armed forces personnel and do not give up on this fight. Probably thats what you need to do now. "Last josh" i would like to say

dev said...

It is strange that some people want only Maj Navdeep to fight for every thing and whats about we all.......Sleep? This in fact has brought us to where we are? We want some one else to fight our battles? This does not work friends......we all affected need to fight this injustice because collectively we win but waiting for things to happen is sure recipe of disappointment. I must thank Navdeep for doing his bit and sure for doing more than his share.

Anonymous said...

Senior officers wont put their neck on the line for the welfare of our exservicemen. It pains me immensely to see how retired SSC officers are treated after service. More like a use and throw commodity. I m sure this indifferent attitude towards ESM will hit them hardest when they hang their uniforms. Lest they forget " What you sow is what you reap".

raj said...

dear sir
god has given u this wonderful oppurtunity to be able to serve the 'services' even after leaving the army. most of the people - i am sure - appreciate ur efforts - in fact urs must be the only authoritative blog on service matters outside the services (except rdoa for specific cases - jst not to tke away their credit). so please dont feel disheartened - there will be some silly guys u will encounter in ur endeavours - i am sure u hv dealt with such guys while serving - think of the bigger picture - i.e welfare of service personnel, which by your efforts are giving a great boost!! u r doing a gd job sir - jst please continue doing it and dont get emotionally run down by some self serving people - we wish u all the best (for our pwn sake!!!)

VASANTH BHANDARKAR said...

I saw the comments of Shankar of 07 Aug at 10:13 am. His words speak for thousands like me. We are disgusted with the system which is supposed to help us. Let me give you one small example. I and my colleague, both officers retired after about 27 yrs service visited DAV for clarifications about corrigendum PPOs. Like what Shankar has said, we were sent from Table to Table with no replies. Then we were told to sit inside a Office. In came a young Gp capt who became so angry seeing us sitting in his office, curtly asked us to go and wait in a Civilian officers room. When we were leaving, we heard him loudly say to the lascar, " yeh sab Ch---ya logon ko kyon mere office me aane dete ho". That sums up the attitude towards retired officers. Both of us became so disgusted we have not gone back to DAV or to JCDA. And yes like what Shankar has said, we were also told by the civilian officer who is also retired now, that if we want a reply from DAV, we should apply through RTI.

Anonymous said...

You are the last Hope Navdeep, don't lose hope . . .. seeing what is happening all around, Ahmedabad incident being no surprise, one is forced to think that THIS wasn't what one had dreamed of before joining the Forces. But let not these 'voyeurs' bog us down. Good has to prevail over evil. Dekhna hai zor kitna bazue katil mein hai...
while unions, letter campaigns, and such activities are not advocated nor advised for us, constant and continuous pressure in the form of PILs, RTIs and other litigations are the only legal tools available to all of us,,,, which we should not shy away from using against the erring and the arrogant!

Anonymous said...

@ vasanth bhandarkar..sir, why don't you just write that gp capt's name for all of us to know?

Luhar Hgnis said...

Navdeep sir,
Its the boil in blood and ripple in mind that makes people like you empathize with personals of armed forces and their rights, and not a selfish motive like PROJECTION or ACR which makes people in AHQ work. I know it, because I feel the same. If you are not fighting the issue this time, I respect and second your decision. BUT pls guide me to combat this menace, so that I sleep in peace at night. My plan is to start with 3 RTI appeals, namely,
1. To Ministry of Law and Justice, asking whether contents of this MORTH letter be treated as contempt of Apex Court verdict on SLP.
2. To MORTH asking whether this letter superceeds the previous letter of 2003/2006.
3. To MORTH asking that since this clarification has suddenly emerged, therefore what measures are being taken to compensate Toll Operators for losses incurred by them since last 103 years of exemption in vouge. (Whether it will be borne by MoD or NHAI?)
After seeking replies, I intend to send them to judges which headed the Bench that gave judgement on toll act, both HC and SC, and request their views.
BUT SIR, I need a copy of Judgement of Punjab/Haryana HC and SC. Also previous letter of NHAI issued on subject. I did try to search them on your blog and web, but couldnt.PLS HELP.
Thanking you.
LUHAR HGNIS

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep sir. I highly appreciate the effort you have taken so far. I also faced similar humiliation in mumbai while traveling through Bandra-Worli Sea link. I completely agree with you about this matter. It is highly unfortunate that we soldiers have to fight for our rights and we are not respected anymore. Probably we are only required in this country in distress like 26/11, natural disasters. No matter how unfortunate it is but the time has come that we all defence personnel have to fight for our rights now. As you are more qualified to fight this case legally i would request you to head this fight and not to give up on the same. I would like to know your opinion on how about writing letters to these private company heads and stop this humiliation. If this does not work how about filing RTI against these companies as there must be some misappropriation of money. Simultaneously we may fight this battle legally in supreme court.

Brig dhingra(retd) said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I m not law qualified person but as a layman i think any facility/right guaranteed vide any Act can only be done away with amdt in the Act, if that be so can a circular issued by an official take away the facility like this???.

Brig SK Dhingra, VSM (retd)

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please provide a link to the MoRTH circular that is the cause of this confusion?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir what is the Latest why cant all serving PERS give this as Army cdrs agenda pt which should b put by chief through mod to ministry of surface n Transport. Should fight for this till last. Army can also b asked that what actions they have taken till now?