Monday, April 29, 2013

Amendment to the Central Government Account (Receipts & Payments) Rules, 1983: Period of Validity of Cheque

Amendment to the Central Government Account (Receipts & Payments) Rules, 1983 regarding period of validity of cheque reduced to 3 months for all govt. transactions. Text of CGA's OM F.No.1(1)/2011/TA/248 Dated 23rd April 2013 reproduced below:-

Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Expenditure
Controller General of Accounts
Lok Nayak Bhawan
Khan Market, New Delhi
Dated 23rd April, 2013
Subject: Amendment to the Central Government Accounts (Receipts and Payments) Rules, 1983
In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (i) of Article 283 of the Constitution, the President hereby makes the following amendment to the Central Government Account (Receipts and Payments) Rules, 1983:
Correction Slip No. 41
Rule 45 Period of validity of a cheque:
The following rule may be substituted for the existing rule:
"The Cheque shall be payable at any time within a period of three months from the date of issue; thus a cheque bearing the 20th January is payable any time upto the 19th April."
(Chandan Mishra Dwivedi)
Dy. Controller General of Accounts
Click here to get Original Order:
(Source-CG Emp news)

Suggest a print out copy of the circular below be taken and kept in your personal file containing your documents.

There had been many complaints by Pensioners and Family Pensioners on delays in paying Pensions and other related payments. Circular 165 has been issued to CMD of all Pension paying Banks instructing them not to delay payments and in case of delays  should pay interest for duration of delays.

Recently, Govt had issued instructions on payment of revised Minimum Pension for all Officers and family pension since Sep last year. However, SBI has not paid this increase and arrears in the pretax that work load is high. Here is a good case to take up and get the interest for the delays.
Please save this circular for future use whenever required. Please take a copy of this circular to your pension paying Bank branch when you take up cases of delay in your pension payments. I have copied the circular below for your benefit.
                Circular No. 165
                                                                                                O/o the Pr.CDA (P),
                                                                                                    Dated: 22 .02.2013.
To,  The CMD
1. All Public Sector banks
2. Private Sector Banks (i.e. ICICI, HDFC and AXIS Banks)
Sub: Delay in payment of pension to Defence Pensioners / Family Pensioners
by agency banks.
The payment of pension to defence (including defence civilian)
pensioners/family pensioners is disbursed by banks as per instructions contained in scheme for payment of pension of defence pensioners by Public Sector Banks. Any other order issued by Government affecting entitlement of basic pension, increased dearness relief or other benefits are also supplied to the banks through circulars for timely & correct implementation.However, this office as well as CGDA/Ministry of Defence is regularly receiving complaints from defence pensioners/family pensioners regarding     delay in payment, payment at incorrect rate etc. The number of complaints from pensioners/family pensioners is increasing regularly, which has beenviewed seriously by higher authorities.
Though, the remedial measures on various natures of complaints received from pensioners/family pensioners are already provided in the above  mentioned scheme/circulars issued from time to time by this office, however,the same are again reiterated as under.
1. Release of withheld amount of gratuity/DCRG:- Of late it is reported by pensioner/family pensioner that bank is not releasing the withheld amount of Gratuity/DCRG after expiry of six months from date of retirement (three month after date of death of Personnel in the case of family pension).
Necessary instructions to release automatically the withheld amount of Gratuity/DCRG i.e. without any instruction from Pension Sanctioning  Authority, after expiry of six months/three months (in the case of family pension) is either mentioned on back side of the PPO itself or enclosed/attached separately with the Pension Payment Order concerned. Therefore, there is only a need to establish a mechanism for release of the withheld amount of Gratuity/DCRG automatically after expiry of six months / three months as the case may be, if nothing is heard from concerned Pension Sanctioning Authority in this regard during the above period.

2.Restoration of Commuted Portion of Pension after 15 years of
Representations against non restoration of commuted portion of pension even after completion of 15 years are also received in a large numbers. To avoid such representation following guidelines, though already circulated under this office circular No.83 dt.24.11.2000, are reproduced.
(i) Where the commutation of pension is/was simultaneous with the retirement, the commuted portion of pension shall be restored after expiry of15 years with effect from the date of retirement, if payment of commuted value of pension is made during the first month of retirement leading to appropriate reduction on account of commutation in first pension itself.
(ii) Where commutation of pension is applied and notified after the date of commencement of pension and commuted portion leads to a reduction in pension in second or subsequent month, the 15 year period for restoration of commuted portion will be reckoned from the date of payment of commuted value i.e. from the date on which reduction in pension on account of commutation become effective.
(iii) Further, where the commuted value is paid in more than one stages, the reduction in amount of pension in such cases shall be made from the respective date of payment and commuted portion of pension of such pensioners will also be restored in stages by pension disbursing authorities on completion of 15  years from the date of reduction in pension.
A mechanism to restore the commuted portion of pension automatically after expiry of 15 years as clarified above also needs to be established.
3. Payment of Fixed Medical Allowance:-
(A)Defence Pensioners/Family Pensioner:-
(i) Consequent on introduction of new Medicare Scheme w.e.f. 1.4.2003, all Ex servicemen who retired on or after 1.4.2003, have to become member of ECHS compulsory and are not eligible to draw Fixed Medical Allowance. All pre 01.4.2003 retirees have the option of either joining the scheme after depositing the requisite lump sum amount for the purpose or drawing Fixed Medical Allowance as per extent rates. Such pensioners/family pensioner who join this scheme will thereby not be entitled to Fixed Medical Allowance.
(ii) Payment of Fixed Medical Allowance in r/o all pre-01.04.2003
pensioners/family pensioners who do not join the scheme will be regulated as under.
(a) All defence pensioners/family pensioners in whose cases pension payment orders were issued by this office till 31.10.98, have been become entitled to the payment of Fixed Medical Allowance w.e.f. 01.12.97 or the date of commencement of their pension whichever is later provided that they opt for medical allowance and submit an undertaking to the bank to the effect that they are entitled to medical facilities under Armed Forces Hospital/MI Room but are residing in the areas where no such outdoor facilities are available. On the basis of this undertaking bank was requested to make an entry in regard to grant of medical allowance in the PPO, Payment Register and pension certificate and to authorized payment of Fixed Medical Allowance.
(b) The grant of Fixed Medical Allowance in r/o pensioners / family pensioners whose pension payment order is issued after 31.10.98 had to be notified in the PPO itself.
(c) Such an undertaking shall be obtained by the bank every yearalongwith the certificate, the pensioner is required it furnish to continue the payment of  Fixed Medical Allowance.
(d) Only one change in option, in the life time of pensioners/family
pensioners shall be allowed. 
(e) The Fixed Medical Allowance has been enhanced from Rs.100/= p.m. to Rs. 300/= p.m. w.e.f. 01.09.2008.
Note:- (i) If any pensioner or family pensioner receives two pensions,only single Medical Allowance as per the extant rules is admissible if he/she does not avail of the medical facilities provided by the respective organizations.
(ii) Re-employed pensioners/Employed family pensioners are not
entitled to medical allowance as medical facilities are provided by his/her organization
(B) Defence Civilian Pensioners / Family Pensioner:-
(i) All defence civilian pensioners/family pensioners in whose cases pension payment orders were issued by this office till 30.4.98, have been become entitled to the payment of Fixed Medical Allowance w.e.f. 01.12.97 or the date of commencement of their pension whichever is later provided that they opt for medical allowance and submit an undertaking to the bank to the
effect that they are entitled to medical facilities under CGHS or similar Health scheme administrated by the Central Government but are residing in the areas where no such outdoor facilities are available. On the basis of this undertaking bank was requested to make an entry in regard to grant of medical allowance in the PPO, Payment Register and pension certificate and to authorizedpayment of Fixed Medical Allowance.
(ii) The grant of Fixed Medical Allowance in r/o pensioners / family pensioners whose pension payment order is issued after 30.04.98 had to be notified in the PPO itself.
(iii) After exercising above option and furnishing undertaking, if pensioners residential address is changed from CGHS covered area to a non CGHS covered area and vice-versa, only one change in option in the life time of a pensioner shall be allowed to avoid hardship to the pensioner as well as bank.
(iv) Such an undertaking shall be obtained by the bank every yearalong with he certificate, the pensioner is required to furnish to continue the payment of Fixed Medical Allowance.
Note:- (i) If any pensioner or family pensioner receives two pensions,only single Medical Allowance as per the extant rules is admissible if he/shedoes not avail of the medical facilities provided by the respective organizations.
(ii) Re-employed pensioners/Employed family pensioners are not
entitled to medical allowance as medical facilities are provided by his/herorganization.
4. Payment of Enhanced Rate of Ordinary Family Pension:- Enhanced rateof ordinary family pension is payable for 7 years from the date of death of service personnel/pensioner or till attaining the age of 67 years whichever is earlier.
In all cases, where family pension is notified either jointly (i.e. Joint Notification) or separately the period of grant of enhanced rate as well as normal rate is also notified in the PPO itself.
Consequent upon implementation of 6th CPC recommendations, the enhanced rate of ordinary family pension is payable for a period of ten years, without any upper age limit from the date of death of the personnel to the family of a personnel who dies in service. This period of grant is also notified in the PPO itself. However, often it has come to the notice of this office as well as HQrs. Office/MOD that bank is making the payment of family pension at normal rate though the period/condition mentioned in the PPO for payment of enhanced rate has not expired.

5. Payment of Additional quantum of pension/family pension to
pensioners/family pensioners of 80 years of age and above: -
(i) The procedure for payment of additional quantum of pension/family pension to old pensioner/family pensioner has been provided in this office circulars No.57 dt. 27.9.2008, 68 dt. 28.7.2009, 72 dt. 24.9.2009, 75 dt. 25.11.2009, 83 dt. 12.10.2011, 397 dt.18.11.2008, 417 dt. 02.09.2009, 441 dt.01.10.2010 and 470 dt.27.9.2011.According to these, the additional quantum of pension/family pension on attaining the age of 80 years and above would be admissible at the below mentioned rates :-
Age of pensioners/family pensioners Additional quantum of pension/family pension 

From 80 years to less than 85 years 20% of Basic Pension/family pension
From 85 years to less than 90 years 30% of Basic Pension /family pension
From 90 years to less than 95 years 40% of Basic Pension /family pension
From 95 years to less than 100 years 50% of Basic Pension /family pension
100 years or more 100% of Basic Pension /family pension

(ii) In cases where exact date of birth of pensioner/family pensioner isavailable in the PPO, the additional quantum of pension/family pension onattaining the age of 80 years and above, would be payable at the abovementioned rates from the first day of the month in which his/her date of birth falls.
(iii) However, in case the exact date of birth is not available either in the PPO or in the office records, but an indication regarding the age of pensioner / family pensioner is available, the additional quantum of pension/family pension shall be paid from the 1st January of the year following the year inwhich the pensioner / family pensioner has completed the age of 80 years and above, based on the PPO/Office records. For example if the records show that the pensioner/family pensioner has already completed the age of 80 years/85 years as on 1st January 2008, he/she shall be allowed additional quantum of pension/family pension from 1st January 2008. No corrigendum PPO is required to be issued in such cases.
(iv) In case neither the exact date of birth nor the age is available either in the PPO or in the office records, the bank will request the pensioner / family pensioner to submit four copies of any of the following documents duly attested by a Gazetted off icer/MLA to the bank.
(a) PAN Card
(b) Matriculation Certificate (containing the information regarding date of birth)
(c) Pass Port
(d) CGHS/ECHS Card
(e) Driving license (if it contains date of birth)
(f) Election ID Card
(g) Aadhaar Number UIDAI

A. If the document submitted by the pensioner / family pensioner contains  the information regarding exact date of birth, the additional quantum of pension/family pension will be payable from the 1st day of the month in which his/her date of birth falls. However, in case the exact date of birth is not available on the documents submitted by the pensioner / family pensioner but an indication regarding the age of pensioner / family pensioner is available therein, the additional quantum of pension/family pension shall be paid from the 1st January of the year following the year in which the pensioner / family pensioner has completed the age of 80 years, 85 years etc. based on the documents submitted by the pensioner / family pensioner.
B. The bank will make the additional quantum of pension/family pension,on provisional basis, up to a period of six months from the month in which the roof of date of birth/age is submitted by the pensioner/family pensioner. In all such cases, the bank will immediately send one copy of each documents submitted by the pensioner / family pensioner to the Service HQrs / RO/ HOO in r/o commissioned officers / PBOR / Defence Civilians respectively for verification and submission to concerned Pension Sanctioning Authorities for formal notification of date of birth/age through corrigendum PPO.
C. The bank will make payment of additional quantum of pension/family pension beyond a period of six months only on receipt of acorrigendum PPO notifying the date of birth/age of pensioner / family pensioner.
D. In case, the pensioner / family pensioner is unable to submit any of the documents mentioned in para 5(iv) above, but claims additional pension based on some other documentary evidence, such cases will be submitted by the bankto the Administrative Ministry through service HQrs(for Commissioned Officers)/Record Office (for PBOR)/HOO(for Defence Civilians) as the casemay be. If Administrative Ministry is satisfied about the claim of the pensioner / family pensioner the same will be authorized through corrigendumPPO. No additional pension will be released by the bank until the corrigendumPPO is issued by the Pension Sanctioning Authorities.
6. Payment of Dearness Relief on pension/family pension: -
(i) Of late, it is represented by the defence pensioners / family pensioners that additional installment of dearness relief is not paid timely by the banks.Banks take the plea that they have not received any order/circulars in thisregard from this office. In this context, attention is drawn to this office circular No. 3/1992 bearing file No. G1/C/0113/Vol. X/Tech dt 29th April 1992,wherein banks were requested to release the dearness relief to defencepensioners (including defence civilian) pensioners/family pensioners on the basis of Government Order on the subject received from the Ministry of personnel, PG&P (Deptt. of Pension and pensioners welfare) New Delhi without waiting any instruction from this office as they are authorizedto do so by the Ministry itself.
(ii) This view has also been strengthened by RBI vide, item 2 of Master Circular on disbursement of Pension by Agency Banks conveyed to all agency Banks under RBI Master Circular RBI/2011-13/98 (Ref DGBA GAD No. H-1/31.05.001/2011-12 dt. July 1, 2011)
7. Payment of dearness relief during re-employment of pensioners / family pensioners:- The payment of dearness relief during re-employment / employment / permanently absorption of pensioners / family pensioners under the Central or State Government or in a Statutory Corporation / Company /Body / Bank under them in India or abroad, is not being regulated correctly by various banks though the position on the subject is clearly stipulated in Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Deptt of P&PW letter No. 45/73/97-P&PW(G) dt. 2nd July, 1999 and Ministry of Defence letter 79(1)/95/D (Pen/Services) dated 28th August 2000 and Deptt of P&PWUO No.41/42/2007-P&PW(G) dt. 3-4-2008. For uniform implementation of above orders, position is re-clarified as under.
(a) In case of re-employed pensioners who hold Group ‘A’ post or posts of the ranks of commissioned officers at the time of their re-employment will not be entitled to any dearness relief on pension on the fact that:- (i) a certain portion of pension is taken into account and is not entirely ignored. (ii) the pay in the post of re-employment is not required to be fixed at the minimum of thescale in all cases, and (iii) dearness allowance at the rates applicable from timeto time is also admissible on the pay fixed on re-employment.
(b)(i) The entire pension admissible is to be ignored in the case of civilian pensioner who held posts below Group ‘A’ and those ex-servicemen who held posts below the ranks of commissioned officers, at the time of their retirement.
Their pay on re-employment is to be fixed at the minimum of the pay scale of the post in which they are re-employed. Such civilian pensioners will consequently be entitled to dearness relief on their pension at the rates applicable from time to time.
(b)(ii) The ex-servicemen (PBOR) who retired before attaining the age of 55 years and re-employed thereafter and their pay fixed at a higher stage because of advance increments and no protection of the last pay drawn is being given, the pay should be treated as fixed at a minimum only for the purpose of ignoring the entire pension and allowing dearness relief on pension.
(c) The disability element is part of disability pension, therefore position explained at a & b above will also apply for regulating dearness relief on disability element during re-employment of pensioner drawing disability pension.
(d) The family pension received by the eligible central Govt.employees/Armed Forces pensioners is, in any case, not taken into account in determining their pay on employment therefore, dearness relief at the rates applicable from time to time shall be admissible on their family pension.
8. Compensation by the Agency Banks for delay in crediting pension/family pension/arrear thereof:-
(i) Delay in credit of pension/family pension/ arrears thereof by banks have always been cause of increase of representation from defence pensioners/family pensioners. Though, RBI has already issued the guidelines to all agency banks to put in place a mechanism to obtain immediately the copies of pension order from Pension Sanctioning Authorities directly and to make payments so that pensioners/family pensioners should get benefits announced by the Governments in the succeeding month’s pension payment itself. (ii)Non adhering by of above guidelines, thereby causing, increase of complaints from pensioners/family pensioners alleging inordinate delay in disbursing the revised pension/family pension and arrears therof has been reviewed by RBI. And in order to obviate the such unwarranted inordinate delay in payment of pension/defence pension and arrears thereof, RBI has further instructed vide item 34 of Master Circular on Disbursement of pension by Agency Banksissued by RBI under letter No. RBI/2013-13/103, DGBA.GAD.No.H-4/31.05.001/2012-13 dated July 2, 2012 that pension paying banks should compensate the pensioner for delay in crediting the pension/family pension/ arrears thereof by paying compensation at a fixed interest rate of 8 percent for the delay after the due date and the compensation shall be credited to the pensioner’s/family pensioner’s account automatically without any claim fromthe pensioner/family pensioner on the same day when the bank affords credit for revised pension/family pension/ arrears thereof in respect of all delayed pension payments made since October 1, 2008.
In view of the positions explained above, it is requested that all paying branches/CPPC making/authorising payment of defence (includingdenfencecivilian) pension/family pension may be advised/instructed either to put in place a mechanism to revise/calculate the pension/family pension/ arrears thereof at earliest so that pensioner/family pensioner should get the benefits announced by the Government in the succeeding month’s pension payment itself or to compensate the pensioner/family pensioner at a fixed interest rate of 8 percent for the delay in crediting his/her pension/family pension orarrear thereof.

Copy to:
1. T h e C G D A, Office of the CGDA Ulan Batar Road, Palam, Delhi
Cantt.-10: For information HQrs Office letter No. 5169/ATP/
Vol-X dt.20.12.2012
2. The PCDA (Navy), Cooperage Road, Mumbai.
3. The CDA (AF), New Delhi.
4. PA to CDA (AT) / CDA (Gts) in Main Office.
5. PA to All Addl.CDA/Jt.CDA, in Main Office.
6. All GOs, in Main Office.
7. Officer-in-Charge, G-I/ M (Tech), G-I/Civil (Tech), Grants(ORs) /Tech
9. Officer-in-Charge, All sections (Local).
10. Officer-in-Charge, E.D.P. Centre (Local). - For information and
uploading at website of this office.



(Source- Sanjha Morcha)

Friday, April 12, 2013

MoD ‘inclined’ to correct rank pay inconsistencies: Air Chief

Chandigarh, April 11
While pointing out that the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict in the rank pay case pertaining to the IV Pay Commission meet the aspirations and the expectations of the affected officers only partially, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, has said the Ministry of Defence “appeared inclined” to accept the services’ view on the shortcomings in the government orders.

In his reply to a letter written to him by a retired officer on the subject, the Air Chief, who is also Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, has stated that a detailed note is being prepared by the MoD for seeking the views of the Solicitor General. Further, a committee is also being set up to crystallise the problem definition and the views of the stakeholders. A series of meetings have been held between service representatives and officials of the MoD over the past three months, where the said inconsistencies were discussed in detail. The actual fixation of pay scales and problems thereof have also been submitted to the MoD, which in turn has sought the comments of the Controller General of Defence Accounts, Ministry of Finance and the Legal Attache (Defence) on the issues raised. According to the chief’s letter, the implementation order has restricted the benefits by making the court order effective only for those officers who held the rank of flight lieutenant and equivalent as on January 1, 1986. This meant that officers promoted to the rank of flight lieutenant and equivalent after this date would not be covered by the order even though the apex court judgment implied at the benefits were applicable “with effect from” January 1986.Further, the integrated pay scale of the Fourth Pay Commission (FPC) and the minimum pay for each rank have not been amended, which means that there would be two types of pay scales for the same rank and seniority. The basic pay ceiling of Rs 5,100 prescribed by the FPC has not been amended. 
(Source - The Tribune)       

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Seventh pay panel to meet ex-servicemen's aspirations: Army chief

Barrackpore (W B): Conceding that the current pension benefits for the country's ex-servicemen are not sufficient, army chief General Bikram Singh Sunday said he would try to ensure their aspirations and requirements are fulfilled when the Seventh Pay Commission comes up. "I am deeply involved in meeting aspirations and requirements of ex-servicemen. I know that currently what you are getting is not enough. But you know about the current financial conditions in the whole world. So, taking into account the condition of the government's coffers, we have to deal with it," Gen Singh said while speaking at a mega ex-servicemen's rally here.

"However, I can assure you that when the Seventh Pay Commission will be set up and the economic conditions will start improving, all your aspirations and requirements would be included in it," he said.

About 10,000 ex-servicemen, war veterans, disabled soldiers and war widows (veer naris) were present on the occasion. The Army chief said he had taken up the issue of pension benefits with the central government for the welfare of the ex-servicemen.

Lauding the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government for supporting the army on welfare issues, he said it was giving "full support" for the re-employment of ex-servicemen. "I would like to inform you that the Indian Army is getting full support from the West Bengal government. When I met the chief minister earlier, then I saw her love and concern for the Army," he said.

Gen. Singh said the army would set up old-age homes for ex-servicemen in every command across the country. "We are opening old-age homes in every command. We are currently experimenting in Chandigarh, where the first old-age home was built," he added.

(Source- ZEE News)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Are Armed Forces Tribunals - a ploy to deny justice to soldiers?- By Birbg V Mahalingam

The Standing Committee of the Parliament on Defence on a proposal moved by the MOD to amend the Armed Forces Tribunal Act has stopped short of recommending full powers of ‘Civil Contempt’ to the AFT. While the officers of the Ministry of Defence, other civilian organisations and retired defence personnel have been recommended to be brought under Civil Contempt powers, the serving soldiers have been left out. This fractured recommendation gives an impression that the Armed Forces are above the law which they are not.

AFTs were created to give speedy and less expensive justice to defence services personnel against grievances. Servicemen refer cases related to Annual Confidential Reports, denial of promotion, illegal dismissal, wrong interpretation of rules and denial of entitlements etc. to the AFT for justice.
In the present form, after the Tribunal has heard, and given a ruling on a case, should the authority responsible for implementing the AFT’s orders decide to ignore the verdict and fail to act, the AFT can do very little about it. The AFTs do not have powers of Civil Contempt. Incidentally, ‘Civil Contempt’ implies willful disobedience of any judgment, direction, or other process of a Court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. Presently, due to lack of powers there is very little forward movement in the 2172 execution petitions that litigants have filed for non-implementation of the Tribunal’s orders.

Strangely the Armed Forces and the Department of Ex–Servicemen Welfare (DESW), both meant to safeguard the interests of the serving and the retired community have stood against the amendment in the Parliamentary Committee. The argument of the Defence Services against the amendment lacks vision and an understanding of the concept of the fundamental rights of a soldier to challenge authority in a disciplined way. Absence of summoned Commanding Officers from their military units and the consequent adverse effect on the operational efficiency, difficulties in receiving summons due to inaccessible terrain etc. have been their mainstay argument. Defence Services perhaps forget that till the creation of AFTs, serving personnel were seeking redress from the High Courts which had ‘Civil Contempt’ powers. How were they managing the operational efficiency of the units then? Civil Contempt proceedings are instituted against the Defence Secretary, Service Chiefs or at best against some branch head at the Service Headquarters. After the MOD and the Service Chiefs have approved the implementation of an AFT verdict, if a junior officer decides not to implement it, is it not a breach of discipline warranting severe punishment?

The rationale put forth by the DESW against empowering the AFTs are illogical and bizarre to say the least. Their arguments such as AFT and the DESW work for the betterment of ex – servicemen and both the organisations work in harmony’, ‘by and large AFT decisions are implemented unless the decisions are against government policy’ and ‘either party is free to implement the verdict or not’ are baffling. DESW perhaps is unaware that the choice of non-implementation of judicial verdicts does not exist. Either the verdict is implemented or the party concerned obtains a stay order. Govt  policies are not sacrosanct and individuals have the right to question them and AFTs are competent to repeal policies and statutory rules. During the deliberations, a representative of the Ministry of Law and Justice stated that the MOD is filing appeals almost on every matter thus ipso facto denying justice to the entitled. The intentions of the MOD can be seen through.

The perversity of the design of the AFT is striking. AFTs are under the MOD’s administrative control for finances and perks. Will that not affect the objectivity of the Tribunal especially when it comes deciding against the MOD or its officers? A petitioner cannot go to the High Court against  decision of the AFT. His only option is to go on appeal to the Supreme Court which is time consuming, costly and will force a complainant to fight a case far away from his place of residence. As per the existing provisions, Supreme Court can be approached only if there is a point of law of general public importance. Which disabled soldier will go all the way to Delhi from some remote village in the country first trying to establish that there is a point of law of general public interest and then spend Rs one lakh per hearing to get his disability pension of say Rs 1000? Willy – nilly the AFTs are the first and the last court for the soldier. Where then is the justice? Is this not an autocratic way of forcing illegal rules and orders on the defence services and make them subservient to the bureaucratic mercies and pleasures? The point is, in case the verdicts of AFT are not to be implemented or cannot be implemented why have an AFT and waste the time of the litigant, the Tribunal and the officials involved? Isn’t this a farce? Interest of justice demands that the AFTs be made independent of the MOD, be provided with full Civil Contempt powers and appeals against AFT verdicts brought under jurisdiction of High Courts.

Challenging the authority is a fundamental right of every individual. A soldier cannot be denied a fair opportunity and an institution where he can go and file his grievance. If we fail to address this basic requirement especially for a disciplined body, the consequences can be telling. The Central Administrative Tribunal and other Administrative Tribunals created under the Administrative Act have full Civil Contempt power. Why not the AFTs?

(BRIG V MAHALINGAM (retd), has held varying command and staff appointments in his 35 years of Army service. He specializes in security related matters and is a leadership trainer. His areas of interest include national security, defence and security forces, governance, and politics.
Comments :

Maj Gen Ashok Coomar (Bhopal) : A very valid point has been raised by Brigadier Mahalingam as to how were the Services HQ managing when the serving soldiers and the veterans approached the High Courts which have unfettered powers of civil contempt. In some cases it was this fear or the ultimate resort to it that relief was granted. They need to answer this if they have any sense of fair play left. Fortunately there is the view point of Defense Secretary on record as evidence. One hopes that the final amendment will not ignore that sane voice. I hate to imagine where we are headed with all such manipulations at a time when the deceit of the MOD in rank pay case is being unraveled. Perhaps further alienation of armed forces from arbiters of their (mis)fortunes with consequences as discovered by Isaac Newton - equal and opposite reaction! My thanks Brigadier Mahalingam for so logically raising these points.

Ashok Gupta : Asking for justice is a fundamental right of every Individual/ citizen including soldiers of our Armed Forces. But if the Soldiers can't afford the lengthy and costly Judicial Process , a Special Fund should be created for them.
(Source- TOI)