Monday, April 2, 2018
Soldier drowns at LAC, Def Min cites ‘missing body’ to deny pension to kin : Family Is Still Waiting After 9 Years : Sad as to how logic itself is being stretched to illogical limits due to an all-pervasive pessimistic environment just to deny benefits to our men and women in uniform
AFT’s Chandigarh bench, comprising Justice MS Chauhan (retd) and Lt Gen Munish Sibal (retd), has issued notice to the ministry and the accounts department on the mother’s plea. The counsel handling the case said that the demands of the accounts officers were unacceptable. “It is as if they would prefer that the family first jump into the river that flows into China and retrieve the body as proof to get the dues,” the counsel said.
The area where Ram was on patrolling duty almost a decade ago is considered one of the most treacherous terrains along the LAC. Ram’s death was declared a ‘battle casualty’ as deaths caused by drowning, avalanches and floods in operational areas are put in this category. The Army had also issued his death certificate.
Ram’s parents had been approaching authorities for ex-gratia benefits and pension since 2009. According to the plea in AFT, the office of the defence accounts (pensions) in Allahabad rejected their claim on the ground that the soldier couldn’t be treated as dead as his body hadn’t been found and was still considered “missing”. The plea adds that repeated requests from even serving Generals of the Army had no effect on the accountants who gave two reasons for not releasing the benefits. One, ordinary family pension would not be released to the mother because the father was a pensioner, and two, the liberalised family pension would not be released since the son was considered missing.
Even ex-gratia lump sum compensation given to families of all soldiers who have died in the course of performing their duty was not released. War veterans have been regularly complaining about the defence accounts department rejecting claims on “hyper-technical interpretation of rules” even after the benefits are sanctioned by executive authorities.
A committee of experts, formed by former defence minister Mahohar Parrikar had in 2015, strongly deprecated the attitude of the department and said, “We are at a loss to comprehend why negative energy and multiple reams of papers should be wasted on such issues concerning benefits of soldiers and deceased soldiers, which are anyway minor from the organizational point of view, when there are much more important financial matters worth pondering over. We find it difficult to digest as to how logic itself is being stretched to illogical limits due to an all-pervasive pessimistic environment just to deny benefits to our men and women in uniform.”
(Source : TOI)