Saturday, February 11, 2017
VISIT PRELIMINARY REPORT OF TEAM TSEWA TO MEET ADJUTANT GENERAL (AG), DIRECTOR GENERAL MANPOWER PLANNING (DGMP) , MD, ECHS & CHAIRMAN ARMY PAY COMMISSION CELL(APCC), DELHI FROM 07 TO 09 FEB 2017
Dear Members of T SEWA,
1. Pursuant to the directions of Core Committee in their Meeting held on 01 Feb 2017, the team T SEWA proceeded to Delhi to meet Adjutant General (AG), Army HQ, Managing Director (MD) ECHS, Director General Manpower Planning (DGMP), Chairman Army Pay Commission Cell and other senior officers. The team from Secunderabad comprised of the following:-
(a) Brig CS Vidyasagar (Rtd) - President, T SEWA
(b) Cmde Suhdeer Parakala (Rtd) - President, T SEWA, South, West & East
(c) Sgt Lawrence Joseph (Rtd) - Vice- President, T SEWA
2. The meeting was made possible due to commendable efforts put in by Col Ajit Singh Rana, President, North Zone, T SEWA.
3. The team T SEWA ex-Gurgaon comprised of the following:-
(a) Brig SKS Rana, VSM(Rtd) - Head Legal Cell, T SEWA
(b) Brig Anil Srivastava, VSM (Rtd) - Advocate for T SEWA
(c) Col Ajit Singh Rana (Rtd) - President, North Zone T SEWA
4. The team T SEWA assembled at Battle Honours’ Mess, Delhi Cantt at 2030 hrs (due to heavy rush) on 07 Feb 2017 and finalised the programme for next two days. The action plan was made as to what all are required to be covered during our presentation to Adjt Gen, Army HQ, MD ECHS and Chairman Pay Commission Cell.
5. Activities. The following activities took place on 08 and 09 Feb 2017.
08 Feb 2017.: Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, Ph D, Adjutant General, Army HQ delivered a talk titled “Current Challenges of Human Resources in the Indian Army” in USI building, EDP Enclave, Delhi Cantt (Opposite to Office of Director General Information Systems near Shankar Vihar) at 1100 hrs. A large number of serving and retired officers attended the event. Team T SEWA also attended the event. It was very useful talk covering so many issues which the Indian Army is confronted with. Since the Speaker requested not to put the details of the talk in public domain, I am only giving list of issues he covered with very little data. Views of Army HQ on various issues and action taken is not given. The detailed mail containing important aspects is being sent to Col Ajit Singh Rana, President, North Zone, T SEWA who will forward it to AG for his clearance. Once approval is received all data of each issue will be put up in the public domain. The session was chaired by former Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, PVSM, AVSM & Bar, VSM(Rtd). Lt Gen PK Singh (Rtd), Director USI introduced former and present AG to the audience. The topics covered are:-
(a) Type of Recruitment in the Indian Army. Shortcomings and improvements instituted for smooth conduct of recruitment to avoid litigation in AFTs later.
(b) Intake in the Indian Army in the Officer Cadre. Limited vacancies in the ranks of Cols to Lt Gen forces Indian Army to take more Short Service Commissioned officers. The SSCO entry of 5+5 year tenure is being made very attractive with an assured second career.
(c) Cadre Review. All Central Govt ministries have cadre review once in five years. It is only Armed Forces which does not have this benefit.
(d) Electoral Reforms. Postal ballot is not feasible in the limited time Election Commission of India gives. Armed Forces have taken a lead to get electronic voting by which almost 12 lakhs serving soldiers are likely to cast their votes deployed even in remote areas in all future elections.
(e) Buddy System. Being critically examined and a solution is going to be found out very soon.
(f) Litigation. 17,000 cases on the average are being defended at any time. However, if a judgment is given in favour of Ex-Servicemen (ESM) in all most all cases, Army HQ will not contest it in the hon’ble Supreme Court. But to get a benefit, the ESM who are not litigants in that particular case gone in favour of veterans has no option but to go to AFT. Personal Services (PS) Directorate is working very hard in the litigations which could be reduced.
(f) Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV). Army is committed to the welfare of ESMs and Family pensioners. All of us will become Veterans one day or the other. AG himself will superannuate on 31 Mar 2017. AGs branch has taken initiative to make DIAV fully functional with the goal of reaching out to 25 lakh ESMs and family pensioners on continual basis.
DIAV is headed by a serving Brigadier with staff of all ranks. It has a full-fledged web site. All grievances projected by ESMs and Family Pensioners are being looked into on priority and actions required to redress their grievances is being undertaken.
Social Media & Responsibility of Veterans. The AG emphasised that Social media and Electronic media can influence the public to a great extent. Sometime ESMs are putting in social media incorrect information showing Service HQs in poor light. Some of them are showing Service HQs as villains without even checking the stand of Service HQ on many issues. Min of Def sends all grievances received at PMO or office of Raksha Mantri to service HQ who have to analyse the grievance. The Service HQ have either take action suo-moto or recommend to the Ministry on grievances referred to them. Even when Service HQ recommends a genuine grievance to be approved by the Min of Def, the same is not given in due to incorrect and at times false information given by ESMs in Social media. Therefore many a time ESMs are only jeopardising their own cases though Army HQ wants to help the cause of ESMs.
AG requested all veterans to check up for correct information from Army HQ before hitting the key board. Army HQ stands by the veteran community to help them in all respects. AG requested that conjecture and half-truths has no place.
AGs branch is in constant touch with CPPCs of all pension paying branches, DPDO, CGDA to ensure legitimate entitlements are given correctly and in time. SBI and PNB have placed their representatives in the office of PCDA (Pensions) Allahabad to ensure there is total synergy between PSA and PDA. Other banks are being persuaded to follow the lead given by SBI and PNB.
(g) Transition to Second Career. AGs branch has taken up with Ministry of Skill Development to train all retiring 60,000 JCOs and OR every year to get a decent second career. PPOs will be generated eight months before their date of retirement.
(h) ECHS. The problems faced by veterans and family pensioners is well known. The shortage of medicines and procedural delays are looked into on priority. The aim is every ECHS member must get best medical treatment in Empanelled hospitals. Cashless and hassle free medical treatment is the aim. Goal is to cut down delays in payment of bills and with initiatives taken, it is likely not to exceed 30 days.
(j) 7th CPC. Anomalies of 6th CPC are being constantly pursued with Min of Def. Core anomalies of 7th CPC have been vigorously pursued. AG briefed all committees constituted to resolve anomalies of 7th CPC and briefed them where the Defence Services have been short changed.
Question- Answer Session.: As time given to him was running out, during question answer session he covered the following issues.
(a) NFU. Many ESMs are under wrong impression that Service HQs have opposed NFU. On the other hand when Armed Forces are not included in NFU, Service HQ have been taking up the issue with Min of Def right from 2009. Even the issue was agitated in front of the 7th CPC.
(b) JAG Branch. JAG branch officers are not members of Bar Council of India. Hence they cannot defend our cases in the AFTs and courts of law. The Central Govt Standing Counsel (CGSC) is the one who is empowered to defend the cases.
© Tri Services Act. Since last three years all three Services HQs have come together to prepare Tri Services Act. Hopefully it will see light of the day.
Presentation on Grievances of ESMs and Family Pensioners. Since AG has to suddenly go out of Station in the afternoon of 08 Feb 2016, he requested T SEWA to make the presentation to DGMP who has to take action on our grievances. Accordingly at 1500 hrs on 08 Feb 2017 the team T SEWA assembled in the office of DGMP in South block, Army HQ. MD ECHS, Chairman Pay Commission Cell, Offg ADGPS, a number of staff officers of AGs Branch attended the presentation. Lt Gen Gopal, SM, 8 Gorkha Rifes (GR) received the team T SEWA warmly and thanked them for sparing their time to come all the way from Secunderabad to Delhi to make the presentation. Such frequent meetings between ESMs and AGs branch will resolve many misapprehensions that exist in the minds of ESMs about Service HQs. Maj Gen Bam, MD ECHS and Maj Gen Kapil Aggarwal, Chairman, Army Pay Commission Cell, Brig Sanjay Singh, Offg ADG PS with their staff Officers were present.
6. Brig CS Vidyasagar (Rtd) made a presentation on the grievances of ESMs and Family pensioners. The four major issues covered were :-
(a) Anomaly in Circular 568 by which JCOs, OR and Family Pensioners were paid less Arrears due to Adoption of Minimum of Fitment Table of SAI 1/S/2008 whereas the Pension was Paid to them at Maximum of the Fitment Table from Jul 2009 to Jun 2014.
(b) Problems Faced by ESMs and Family Pensioners in ECHS.
© Functioning of Record Offices
(d) Zilla Sainik Boards and Rajya Sainik Boards.
7. The MS PP slides of the presentation are attached.
8. The assurance given is AGs branch is totally committed to welfare of ESMs and Family pensioners. They desired such meeting between ESMs and Army HQ at frequent interavals is most welcome. AGs branch will give authentic information to ESMs so that no misgiving exist in the minds of ESMs and Family Pensioners about Service HQs.
Points from MD ECHS
9. I covered excellent work undertaken by all MDs, ECHS from the time of its inception. Maj Gen Bam on seeing the presentation accepted that certain problems are existing and all efforts are being undertaken to find solution at the earliest. He assured he is constantly in touch with Min of Def, AGs Branch, ECHS Regional HQs, Polyclinics and even veterans. He stated any one can ring him up at any time of the day or night to project his problem. He wanted veterans to understand his limitations.
10. Medicines. MD ECHS, Army HQ informed us that he has taken up the perennial problem of shortage or non-availability of medicines in MHs, clearance of bills of empanelled hospitals, budget constraints, problems created by IFA system etc. Army Cdr, Southern Comd visited Secunderabad and found that MH Golconda has no problem with IFA though he is a difficult person to convince. All formalities to get medicines not available in MHs to be supplied by Apollo pharmacy was completed and at the last minute the agreement was cancelled. Effort to get Authorised Local Chemist is almost through and shortage of medicines is likely to become thing of the past.
09 Feb 2017
11. Chairman Army Pay Commission Cell, Maj Gen Kapil Aggarwal approved as Lt Gen and will take over as Comdt MCEME by end Feb 2017 invited the team T SEWA to have a detailed interaction with him and his staff in his office (Room No 2, Sena Bhawan) at 1100 hrs on 09 Feb 2017. The team T SEWA discussed many issues with the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and two staff officers on various issues affecting pension and arrears, anomalies in 7th CPC. Since stand of Army HQ cannot be put in the public domain the same is not being included in this mail.
12. Maj Gen Kapil Aggarwal accepted the suggestion of T SEWA that there is a need to have a permanent Tri Services Pay Commission Cell so that continuity is assured. Such a cell will be able to interact with other Ministries and get best deal for Armed Forces and pensioners in subsequent pay commissions.
13. The Chairman Army Pay Commission Cell advised all veterans to read not only 7th CPC Report pertaining to the Armed Forces but of other ministries and know how they have got a better deal. The Army Pay Commission cell has brought that a Track Man of Railways which is a unskilled worked category whose grade pay was Rs 1,800 in 6th CPC got a jump to equivalent of Rs 2,400 in 7th CPC. Similarly even CAPFs got a better deal in 7th CPC. Every BSF constable gets benefit of field area if he is in BOP. If the walking distance is 5 km or more he gets additional allowance of 25%. Similarly a Lascar (Non Combatant) in Coast Guard got a better deal than a Sepoy of Armed Forces.
14. Deputy Chairman, Army Pay Commission cell gave us all actions taken by their cell to get better deal such as getting pension from Jan 2016 = 2.57 x Pension as on Dec 2015, improvement of index of rationalisation of Lt Cols to Brig and additional steps in the Increment method of pay fixation of serving soldiers and pensioners. NFU is likely to be sanctioned soon. He assured all help to ESMs and Family pensioners. The mandate of Army Pay Commission Cell is till Jun 2017 and will be wound up.
15. During discussion with various senior serving officers, it was revealed the Service HQ have taken up with large number of anomalies in 6th CPC with the Govt of India. Govt of India instead of resolving them by appointment of a committee, passed on these anomalies as a term of reference to 7th CPC. 7th CPC instead of looking into anomalies threw the ball back into the court of Govt of India. I feel T SEWA in their next meeting with AGs branch should take up such anomalies through AFTs for resolution through legal route.
Points from Brig Anil Srivastava, VSM, Advocate for T SEWA
16. The second court out of three in AFT (PB) Delhi will function very soon. We will file the seven cases soon.
17. Second Undertaking. He informed AFT is insisting that all litigants should give an undertaking that they have no objection to be clubbed with lead litigant of the case and give him permission to file their documents to AFT on their behalf. The format has been sent to HQ T SEWA.
18. AFT – 21 on Incorrect Arrears Fixation of 33 Year Delinked to Get Minimum Guaranteed Pension from Jul 2009 to Jun 2014. T SEWA stand on AFT – 21stands legal scrutiny. If pension is paid at Maximum of Fitment Table and arrears out of that pension also to be paid at Maximum of Fitment Table.
19. Invoices for each legal case with required details will be sent to HQ T SEWA as desired.
Point from Brig SKS Rana, VSM, Head of Legal Cell.
20. The Govt of India, Min of Def letter clearly stated that once AFT gives judgment on broad banding, benefit to all those given lesser percentages of disability, the PCDA(Pensions) Allahabad should take action to generate Corr PPOs suo-moto. Though the stand is correct, the other members of T SWEA felt that DAD will always state that they will take action only if PS -4 (Legal) Army HQ forwards such judgments with their recommendation then only Corr PPOs granting benefit of Broad Banding will be issued. So we will not allow PCDA (P) Allahabad to delay such claims on some pretext or other and send all such cases be sent to PS Directorate (PS-4 Legal) for expeditious action.
My Own Impression
21. I rightly or wrongly got the impression after interacting with so many senior serving officers, that Service HQ is totally committed to the welfare of ESMs and Family Pensioners. We Veterans without benefit of correct data do at times level unsubstantiated charges against Service HQ. We have to understand limitation of Service HQ and appreciate they can go to some extent and beyond that they have to accept whatever is thrust upon them by Govt of India. Things are improving. I have seen only Maj Gens were authorised vehicles for carrying out official duties when I was in Army HQ from 1994 to 1997. When I was in Army HQ, I used to walk upto to South Block and Sena Bhavan carrying files to process various cases. But now all officers on demand are given CHTs for performing military duties.
22. There is a need for T SEWA to visit Army HQ once in six months to establish good rapport with senior serving officers to pursue cases either with Govt or through AFTs and hon’ble Supreme Court.
23. Sgt Lawrence Joseph, Vice – President who was part of team T SEWA to visit Delhi now has fully understood T SEWA works more for welfare of JCOs, OR and family pensioners than Officers. He was involved in every meeting and presentation from 07 to 09 Feb 2017 to know how much hard work has to be put in to make our presentation convincing and prepare a water tight case to convince officers of AGs branch of our genuineness and correctness of our stand.
24. Since AG was course mate of Col Ajit Singh Rana, President, North Zone, T SEWA, he got this meeting arranged. I am sure many of you know the present service chiefs and PSOs who might be even your juniors or regimental buddies, seniors or colleagues etc. You must help TSEWA to get appointment with them to project grievances of ESMs and Family pensioners. We must constantly sensitize the Service HQs of ground realities.
25. Humble Request. I make this humble request to all members of T SEWA. Before you level any charges on any Service HQ in the Social media, kindly find out the actual stand. Service HQs are working for us the veteran community and by our enthusiasm let us not make position of Service HQ rather awkward. Therefore you are requested to exercise restraint when you criticize Service HQ and take pains to find out the truth. This advice is applicable to me too which due to emotional outburst at times, I do violate it!
25. Overall the visit from 07 to 09 Feb to Army HQ has been highly successful and worth every rupee spent.
Brig CS Vidyasagar (Rtd)
(Source- F/B A/c of JWO Milan Das Air Veteran)