Saturday, November 12, 2011

Government clarifies on women army officers’ promotion

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) The government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the army was considering grant of promotion to a section of women officers whose services were restored on the court's direction.

The court was hearing a petition of the defence ministry challenging a Delhi High Court directive to the army and the air force to grant permanent commission to women officers of the short service commission (SSC). The air force complied with the high court ruling.

The apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale, taking note of the government statement, told counsel Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for the women army officers, to wait for some time till the government's decision.

As Lekhi raised the issue, counsel for the defence ministry R. Balasubramaniam told the court that the representation of the women officers seeking promotion was under the consideration of the army.

The court said if the government did not decide on the women officers' representation within a reasonable time, they could move the court.

Justice Lodha said the matter was being kept pending and if there was any undue delay in the decision making or if the verdict was adverse to the women officers, they could always move the apex court.

The ministry moved the apex court, challenging the initiation of contempt proceedings against the army authorities.

The apex court by its March 4 order stayed the contempt proceedings but not the judgment of the high court, directing the absorption of SSC women officers on a permanent basis.

The women officers, discharged from their service in 2009 when they were due to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, are now, upon the restoration of their service, working under the officers who were junior to them.

Balasubramaniam told the court that the high court order would be taken advantage of by other retired women officer to seek restoration of their service.

Lekhi countered by asking him to tell the court the number of women officers, other than the petitioner officers, who had sought restoration of their services in the wake of the high court verdict. ©Indo-Asian News Service
Government clarifies on women army officers’ promotion

Give all benefits to ex-short service commission officers

Give all benefits to ex-short service commission officers: Court
Pritam Pal Singh , Sep 05, 2011, 20:03 pm IST

Give all benefits to ex-short service commission officers: Court
New Delhi, In a ruling that will benefit Short Service Commission (SSC) officers in the armed forces, the Delhi High Court has said that those officers who are forced to leave before completing their tenure due to disability and poor health are eligible for all medical and insurance benefits.

The court was hearing the petition of Sagrika Singh, who joined as SSC officer in the Indian Army Feb 2, 1999, and was attached with the Army Medical Corps but was denied medical and insurance benefits on the ground that she had not completed her tenure. Her SSC stint was cut short by kidney failure.

Directing the ministry to provide all benefits to the petitioner, the court, in its 23-page order, said: “Mandamus is issued to the defence ministry to pay the sum assured to the petitioner…and needless to state the petitioner would be entitled to simple interest on the said sum (Rs.10 lakh) at the rate of eight percent per annum reckoned from a date three months after the petitioner raised a demand.”

The division bench consisting of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Rajiv Shakdher said: “The Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF) was established with the approval of the government. The main object of the fund is to cater to the socio-economic needs of the army personnel and their families by providing insurance cover.”

The court pointed out that the objective of the AGIF disability scheme was to provide financial benefits to individuals whose service was cut short due to invalidation or release on medical grounds before completion of the terms of engagement or service applicable to that rank.

“The terms of engagement of the petitioner required the petitioner to serve for 14 years subject to fulfilment of the prescribed eligibility conditions. The only reason which resulted in the tenure of engagement being cut short was petitioner’s failure” to be in the required medical condition, said the court in its judgment Aug 29, made available to IANS Sep 3.

The petitioner said that after she joined the service she was granted extension by another five years. She became eligible to be considered for further extension in service by another four years, but prior to expiry of the period of five years, it was detected that one kidney of the petitioner was malfunctioning.

In the year 2009 upon examination by a medical board it was opined that the petitioner had a malfunctioning kidney and thus she was placed in permanent low medical category with disability assessed at 100 percent.

Since one condition of grant of extension in service was that the person ought not to be in low medical category, the petitioner was denied extension and released from service.

The bench observed: “Enrolled in the Indian Army as a SSC officer, the initial term of her engagement was of five years and the petitioner had a right to be considered for extension in service, firstly for a term of five years and thereafter for another term of four years. Petitioner’s right was to be considered for extension in service. The army authorities were thus under an obligation to consider the said right of the petitioner.”
Give all benefits to ex-short service commission officers
Related reading: SC boost for women officers in Army

Jawan tortured by Police

Jawan tortured by police, Ludhiana family alleges
Balwinder Kumar, Hindustan Times
Ludhiana, November 10, 2011

The father of an army man has alleged that his son was tortured at a police station in Ludhiana district, and has demanded a high-level probe into the incident. Harbans Singh said his son Jasbir Singh was stripped and beaten up at Mullanpur Dakha police station by station house officer (SHO), inspector Prem Singh, and other police personnel, and also slapped with two false cases on October 1.

Jasbir, 27, who is posted at Khanpur Camp in Delhi, was on leave and at home with his father in Ludhiana’s Mullanpur Dakha town when the SHO summoned the duo to the police station on October 1.

The father and son had in August complained of "forcible eviction" from their rented home and the call to the police station was reportedly in this regard.

The SHO started taking the side of the other party and pressurised Jasbir and his father to reach a compromise in the case, Harbans said.

Harbans claimed that when he opposed this, Prem Singh slapped him. "When Jasbir intervened, the SHO shut the door of the police station and he and other policemen assaulted my son," he said.

His son was stripped and brutally thrashed for two hours, Harbans said.

The next day Jasbir was sent to Ludhiana jail on "false" charges. The SHO slapped two cases against Jasbir — assaulting to deter public servant from discharge of duty (this on the statement of Prem Singh himself who was also the inquiry officer); and attempt to rape, Jasbir's father said.

This second case was registered following a complaint by a 45- year-old woman on the same day, Harbans said.

In his letter to army authorities he claimed that the woman is a "police informer" and had come to the police station in support of the opposite party.

Harbans said his family members had gone to Delhi to meet army officers of the unit, and were assured of justice. The family has written to the Punjab DGP and other senior officers demanding a probe. DIG (Ludhiana range) MF Farooqui said he had received the complaint. An inquiry would be done to ensure justice, he said. The family has also filed a bail application in the attempt to rape case in Punjab and Haryana high court.
Jawan tortured by police, Ludhiana family alleges

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ESM need to focus on combating corruption

Dear ESM,
Why are we taking up a dead issue once again. It will serve no purpose. Let us change the focus from OROP to corruption in public life. Let us give back to society what it has given us= respect, security and good life. Returning medals is unsoldier like. Lest us not do it. Let us be an example to other services. Present pension is enough for our need. It will never be enough for our greed.
Brig Darshan Singh

Food for Thought: ESM need to focus more on social issues like Health, Hygiene, Education, Sanitation and Corruption. This will contribute to Progress of the Nation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strong Lokpal bill in the offing: Antony

Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 22:56
Thiruvananthapuram: Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday said the government will bring out a "strong" Lokpal bill wherein it will become difficult for anyone in position to work without accountability.

All those who work in public life would have to surrender to the rule of law and subjected to the scrutiny of social auditing, he said at a function here.

"Ministers, MLAs, judiciary, officials, businessmen and media persons will have to stand before the scrutiny of people and have to be accountable to people," he said.

"No one can run away from it," Antony said, adding all should prepare themselves to face the change.

Noting that Right to Information Act was only a beginning, he said it was going to be extended to many more areas. Antony said role of media in the present context was very important.

As a matter of caution, he said media also should subject themselves for criticism and self introspection. Media could influence the society and so, the reports they file should not be unilateral.

"While giving breaking news, media should also think about its consequences," he said. PTI
Strong Lokpal bill in the offing: Antony

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Defence scam: Demystifying Unit Run CSD Canteens

CAG’s right to probe the way public funds were being handled was questioned. Then, it found that considerable sums of money — about Rs. 80 crore per year — went missing from the system. And that there was resistance to the idea of accountability.
The large network of 3,600 Unit Run Canteens (URCs) are given soft loans at subsidised rates of interest (4.5-6.5 percent) from the Consolidated Fund of India via the CSD for setting up retail outlets and stocking up.
All of them function from government premises, which are made available to them free of cost. Transport of goods is done by defence vehicles using service personnel.
Considerable amount of Central government funds are provided to the URCs every year from the budgetary provisions of CSD by way of quantitative discount. A proposal for disbursement of quantitative discount for 2008-09 to the tune of Rs. 200 crore is under consideration. In order to have a better view on the overall services being provided by CSD to the URC, it is imperative that the audit personnel of DGADS are allowed to have access to information maintained by the URCs.”
But CSD officials maintained that the outlets are managed primarily as a regimental institution. Further, that the Commanding Officers are solely responsible for their functioning and financial aspects are audited by various internal audit boards as well as registered chartered accountants.
But the CAG pointed out that the trade discount given to the outlets was never passed on to the consumer. This adversely affected the CSD’s profitability and therefore government revenues. Since 50 percent of the CSD profit should accrue to the government, treating the discount given as a charge to the trade understated the profit and thereby deprived the government of revenue worth hundreds of crores.
To top it all, CSD doled out grants given out of its profit to various organisations without even insisting on application for funds. Utilisation certificates were never insisted on from major recipients, namely army, navy or air force, for the grants provided.
The CAG discovered other anomalies in the course of its audit. For instance, that the “base depot had not shifted to the new location even after 13 years of taking over the land at Taloja (Navi Mumbai) and continues to occupy the premises leased by the Indian Navy from Mumbai Port Trust. Not only this, rates of transportation paid by the base depot for ferrying of stores to other parts of the country were exorbitantly high compared to the rates set by Mumbai sub-area”.
Moreover, several units under the jurisdiction of five area depots were drawing liquor in excess of that authorised on the basis of the strength of the unit. CSD and the army authorities allowed excess withdrawal of concessional liquor worth Rs. 7.82 crore, the market value of which was Rs. 19.45 crore.
CAG has now suggested that URCs should be recognised as retail outlets integral to CSD and its operational results should be disclosed in CSD accounts. But right now, the armed forces seem reluctant to loosen their grip, irrespective of the fact that the exchequer is losing hundreds of crores. -via Tehelka
Cheap booze comes with a price
Comment: The Military needs to come clean on this perpetuating scam. All URC accounts must be a open book and audited by CAG. This will reduce sycophancy, corruption and primarily set right the flawed ACR system which presently encourages promotion of corrupt officers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Armed Forces Tribunal clarifies Liberal Family Pension

Armed Forces Tribunal orders pension to mother of jawan who died in Siachen Karthika Gopalakrishnan, TNN | Sep 22, 2011, 01.10AM IST

CHENNAI: A woman, whose 27-year-old armyman son died after contracting a fatal illness while serving at the Siachen Glacier, is still awaiting his pension. Pointing out that she is fully entitled to the benefits, the regional bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in the city has directed the authorities to speed up the process. A bench of Justice A C Arumugaperumal Adityan, member (judicial), and Lt Gen (retd) S Pattabhiraman, member (administrative) passed orders.

Hellan Sagayamony from Nilgiris district had moved the tribunal when she did not get any relief even three years after her son's death. Her son A Stalin had enrolled as a sepoy in the Madras Regiment on January 28, 2002 and posted to high-altitude regions, including Siachen Glacier, between October and December 2007. While serving at the international border and the Line of Control, he developed breathing problems due to the extreme cold.

Though Stalin was given medical treatment by the doctor at the post, he was later evacuated to the field hospital where he was diagnosed with 'High-Altitude Cerebral Edema' (HACE) and placed on the "dangerously ill" list. He was transferred to the Command Hospital, Chandimandir in Haryana and then to the Army Hospital (Research & Referral), New Delhi on January 24, 2008. He died the next day due to spontaneous intra-cerebral hemorrhage.

With his death classified as "battle casualty", claims for liberalised family pension (LFP) and ex-gratia payment were made to the principal controller of defence accounts (Pension), Allahabad, but both were rejected on the ground that death was due to stress and strain and not due to climatic conditions.

LFP can be claimed when death takes place during action in a war, war-like operations, border skirmishes, operation against terrorists and other such actions. However, Stalin's dependents were sanctioned a special family pension, which is given when the cause of death is attributable to military service. The pension is lower than the LFP. An ex-gratia payment is made for death occurring due to accidents in the course of performing duties.

Passing orders, the bench referred to a government order (GO) issued by the ministry of defence on January 31, 2001 which said that disease contracted because of continued exposure to a hostile work environment was a condition under which one could claim LFP. Another GO issued on October 21, 1998 added that the ex-gratia amount had been enhanced from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

Relying on both GOs: The bench ruled that Hellan Sagayamony was entitled to both allowances and directed authorities to expedite the relief within three months. Failing which, she would be entitled to 9% interest per annum on the arrears.
Liberal Family Pension

Related Reading: Non-pensioners entitled to MH facilities: AFT

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Prez retirement home: Ex-servicemen protest

Prez retirement home: Ex-servicemen protest
By: Vivek Sabnis Date: 2011-09-06 Place: Pune

Retired defence personnel stage agitation outside collector's office against decision to allot land reserved for jawans to Pratibha Patil
Demonstrating displeasure over the lower court's verdict to allot land in Khadki to President Prathiba Patil, former defence officials staged a protest outside the District Collectors office yesterday. The land that ex-servicemen claim is reserved for retired army jawans is the proposed plot for the President's retirement home.

Up in arms: Retd Col Suresh Patil (wearing goggles) and others protest under the banner of Green Thumb Environmental Protection Group before the District Collector's office yesterday. The protesters beat up an effigy of 'corrupt army officers'. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Col Suresh Patil (Retd), who led the demonstration under the banner of Green Thumb Environmental Protection Group, said, "We are filing a PIL against the court's decision. When the President has residential properties in Jalgaon and Amravati, why should this land be allotted to her?"

Patil and 30 ex-servicemen have submitted a memorandum to the Resident District Collector, Anil Patil's office. They demanded the copy of the letter be sent to the President, the Union Defence Minister and the Home Minister. Earlier, the group of retired army officials had staged an agitation outside the Collector's office by throwing chappals at a symbolic effigy with names of corrupt defence officials.

Among the retired protesters were Col Gulabrao Jadhav, Major Ashok Sartape, Col Anand Vishal Gadge and Jahangir Mulla. Also, the Green Thumb Environment Group has demanded that the Jan Lokpal bill include the President. The members said that except for divulging operational details, it should include the army as well.
Prez retirement home: Ex-servicemen protest


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