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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Withdrawal of litigation against disabled soldiers

It gives me immense satisfaction in stating that I have been given to understand that the Raksha Mantri Ms Nirmala Sitharaman has directed the withdrawal of appeals filed in the Supreme Court against disabled soldiers by the Ministry of Defence since the past many years. As is well known, multiple appeals till the highest Court of the land were filed against disability benefits granted to disabled veterans on judicial intervention by various Courts and Tribunals despite the issue attaining finality with a series of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in favour of disabled soldiers. In fact, progressively going a step further, it seems that directions have also been passed by the Minister to concede appeals filed by disabled soldiers in the Supreme Court on a case to case basis in all matters which are found to be covered by judicial dicta.

Though this matter and many other issues related to litigation and redressal of other grievances were considered by a Committee of Experts in 2015 constituted by the then Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar, of which I was a Member, the implementation of the accepted recommendations was moving at a slow pace but we were assured by Ms Sitharaman about concrete action earlier this year.

This provides closure to a very emotive issue wherein though the financial implications were minimal still the grim reality of a nation fighting its own disabled veterans was heartbreaking since it is well known and universally recognized how stress and strain of military service, a regimented lifestyle away from the family and inability to effectively cater to domestic commitments result in aggravation of existing physical and mental conditions of the women & men in uniform.

I express my thanks to Mr Parrikar and Ms Sitharaman in dealing with the subject sensitively and in a totally apolitical manner devoid of any political inclination.

I also express my gratitude to Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, for consistently taking this up with the political executive till resolution, without whose support this issue would not have reached national consciousness, and of course my dear friend, the brave Major DP Singh, who remained at the forefront of the cause.

The recommendations of the Committee of Experts can be accessed here (Paragraph 2.2.1 specifically deals with disability pensions).

The official press release of the Ministry of Defence when the Committee had rendered its recommendations, can be accessed here.

Thank You.

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