Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Army chief to protest defence ministry treatment of ex-servicemen



By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 15th Jan 14

On January 2, the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), the ministry of defence (MoD) wing that is charged with looking after lakhs of military veterans across the country, gave these former soldiers a cruel New Year present. It ruled that ex-servicemen who take the MoD to court for disability and pension benefits would have to fight their cases all the way to the Supreme Court.

An DESW office memo, which Business Standard possesses, cites six categories of litigation in which the MoD will appeal automatically. The first is disability pensions, specifically citing the example of Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, who lost his leg in a gun battle in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. Oberoi soldiered on without any financial benefit whilst in service, but was categorized as 70 per cent disabled when he retired as the army’s vice chief in 2001. When the 5th Pay Commission enhanced this to 75 per cent, the MoD refused to pay. In 2012, two years after the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) directed the MoD to pay the modest increase, the DESW appealed in the Supreme Court, dragging Oberoi into another, even more expensive, round of litigation.

Says Oberoi: “For almost two years, this has remained pending. For me, an extra 5 per cent is not a financial windfall. But the MoD has made my case an example for all future appeals. Most ex-servicemen simply cannot afford to keep litigating.”

In the past, numerous impoverished ex-servicemen have abandoned their cases, since they cannot afford endless legal battles against top government lawyers, which the MoD hires at taxpayers’ expense. Often veterans die before they can get their dues. The new DESW order transforms this into official MoD strategy.

The DESW memo (MoD ID No.1(11)2013/D (Pension/Legal) dated 02.01.2014), notes that the department had earlier run each case past its law officers to decide whether to appeals against adverse verdicts. Henceforth, the department will appeal automatically, since referring to legal advisors and processing each case on its merits “increases paper work at various levels and delays process of filing of appeal.”

The six categories of litigation in the memo cover disability benefits and certain categories of pensions, which involve a high percentage of ex-servicemen litigation --- the DESW has refused to provide figures, even in response to queries under the Right to Information (RTI). The memo directs the military to “straight away process such cases for appeal… without routing such cases to the (DESW).” The military should refer only cases where there is a “difference of opinion”.

On the eve of Army Day, when the country remembers its veterans, army chief General Bikram Singh says he will raise this issue with the Rajya Raksha Mantri (RRM), Jitendra Singh, who oversees the DESW. “The welfare of ex-servicemen is close to my heart. This issue has been projected at the staff level… This is their right and we at army headquarters have to work to ensure that they get their entitlements. I will take up this case again with the RRM,” promises the chief.

Navdeep Singh, a Chandigarh-based lawyer who has campaigned tirelessly to induce the MoD to pay deserving ex-servicemen their dues rather than wearing them out through groundless appeals, says: “Thousands of appeals are being prepared by government lawyers, which will now be filed in the Supreme Court against AFT and High Court judgments granting benefits to disabled soldiers. This will force these poor soldiers to litigate till the Supreme Court. In addition, thousands of cases are already pending because the DESW is unwilling to pay.”

Furthermore, say Navdeep Singh, the DESW is snowed under with work from all its appeals. 90 per cent of the judgments that require implementation (after the DESW has exhausted all its legal recourses) remain unexecuted, forcing aggrieved ex-servicemen to file contempt petitions. All this adds to the litigation.

The DESW was set up in 2004 with the stated aim of ensuring “the welfare, resettlement and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen (ESM), war widows and their dependents.” A secretary to the government of India heads the department.

14 comments:

Manne said...

Would it be better to have DESW like departments under respective arms of the armed forced. That would take it away from babus and mantris who do not understand the "shame to the nation" when those who give their time, blood and, at times, life for the nation and are not cared for.

Nayan said...

DESW should be disbanded with immediate effect. The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces should be given a show cause notice as to why he alone should not be made responsible for the insults heaped upon by this ungrateful nation on its Armed Forces. The nation should be asked as to why any soldier should lay down his life for the motherland while his countrymen are engaged in rampant corruption.

captainjohann said...

DESW is one of the most corrupt and heartless organisation though staffed by Ex Servicemen themselves.I remember a case inMajor Navdep's blog where a village lady lost her Husband a subedar in 1971 war and was granted a pension. Now later her son a Havildar lost his life in Kargil war and the babus in Defence Ministry refused the second pension saying no wisow or serving person can have two pensions. The above rule is mostly for servivemen who work in civil organisation and earn their pension there also and they can opt for a single pension which suits them best. But the village ladys case was unique and the babus will not budge and I think it took Raksha manthri's effort to get this sanctioned.

Anonymous said...

What kind of filth have we gotten elected into our Government? I wonder there is no "Anna" to fight the cause of our ex-servicemen? Even Anna is a sham and diversion. A charge of 'traitor to India' and 'war-criminal' should be brought on the serving and ex-ministers of MoD for playing with the lives of those who protect us by fighting for India. I don't want to waste my words on the filth called Indian Bureaucracy, a glimpse of which could be seen from the Khobra-gate episode.

Prodyut said...

The British conquered India by simply treating its sepoys with fairness. Timely pay and a reasonable ( for the time) "pinshun". They added to that "izzat".
Our wise Babus must be different. For them litigation s are a "sport".
Shameful!
But in having their 'sport" the wastrels are ruining the Army!

Anonymous said...

MOD is acting like an auditor while the AF are employed and working under it. It is high time that the MOD starts behaving like an employer of the Armed Forces of the country and the Armed forces as an employee of the MOD for GOI. The three services have no independent authority of there own and are only implementing the instructions of the MOD in all respects. In the interest of the services and the MOD it would be better that the pay, allowances and pension is disbursed through the MOD like any other employer than individual services. The MOD is shying away from its responsibilities of being the care takers of the armed forces and because the individual services are doing its job they are doing nothing other than acting as an auditor. The present system is the most mismanaged employer employee relationship. The MOD does not seem to want to own its own defence services while the three services do not want to be owned by the MOD.

Anonymous said...

A BLACK DAY IN THE NATIONS QUEST TO A SUPERPOWER AND FOR POLITCANS AND
BABUS ASPIRING TO SIT IN THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL AS PERMANENT MEMMBERS , ON THE BLOOD GUTS GORE AND SHOULDERS OF ITS ARMED FORCES . THE ARMED FORCES ESPECIALLY THE ARMY MUST NOT TAKE IT LYING AND 'all means legal , political and unconventional" must be employed to kick the DESW ORGANISATION AND EMPLOYEES .IESM MUST MOBILISE ALL TO GET BJP INTO POWER AND ABOLISH THE DESW AND ONLY UNIFORMED SERVICE MEMBERS BE INDUCTED INTO IT . THE BLACKGUARDS OF DESW MUST BE PHOTOGRAHED AND PHOTOS POSTED IN ALL ENGLISH AND VERNACULAR NEWSPAPERS SO THAT THE EXSERVICEMEN CAN BLACKEN THEIR FACES AND PARADE THEM ON DONKEYS WHEREVER THEY FIND THEM . THE TIEM TO RISE HAS COME THE BUGLE MUST BE SOUNDED .

ashok said...

THE ARMY NEED NOT FIGHT THE ENEMY . FIFTH COLUMNISTS AND AGENTS ARE SITTING RIGHT IN MOD DESM . WHO NEED TANKS GUNS AND BPJS . THE NATION IS
ON A DOWNHILL, WITH A HOME SECRETARY DECLARING THE HOME MINISTER TO BE A CORRUPT DAWOOD LACKEY AND MOD CHOPPING THE ARMS AND LIMBS OF ITS OWN DIABLED RETIRED SOLDERS AIRMEN AND SAILORS . THE AGENDA IS WELL SET
FOR DISMEMBERMENT OF THE NATION .

Anonymous said...

The MOD has crooked babus. . it should be filled with ex-servicemen. The secretary of defence should report to chairman of chief of staff.

ashok said...

forget the protest .THE ARMY CHIEF AND HIS PSOS SHOULD HAVE ALL MARCHED TOWARDS THE DEFENCE MINISTERS OFFICE AND ASKED FOR THE
WITHDRAWL OF THIS DESW ORDER . INCASE OF DILLY DALLING THE GENERALS SHOULD HAVE THROWN THEIR RESIGNATIONS ON THE FACE OF THE DEFENCE MINISTER. THE NATION WOULD HAVE ADMIRED THEM . ALL WOULD HAVE BEEN ABSORBED BY THE CORPORATE WORLD .

Anonymous said...

:( ...I am at a loss for words!!!!!

Shankar said...

Another inefficient show by AK Anthony and CO

Prodyut said...

Apropos captainjohann's entry.

I would say that if the lady who was brave enough to send a son to Kargil
AFTER having lost her man in 1971 she MUST be given BOTH pensions because that is an INSPIRING precedent to set.
In that case , if follwing rules is all, then let us replace the Baboos with a computer .I am our software people can write such a ( stupid) programme.
And what was teh IAS doing,pray!
Shame!

Anonymous said...

He will also be ex service man shortly. Government would not treat him like this