NEW DELHI: In the last two years, the government has appealed against 794 soldiers challenging their disability status. Number of appeals against soldiers by government is in contradiction to government’s policy to reduce litigation. Percentage of disability fixes pension and other perks of a soldier in the armed forces.
But, interestingly, only in one case, the appeal has gone in favour of government in the Supreme Court. Out of nearly 1,500 appeals pending with the apex court, 794 are disability cases, which comes to 61.50 per cent of the total appeals filed by the government.
Government in November 2015 had set up a five-member committee to reduce litigation after former defence minister Manohar Parrikar expressed displeasure on the MoD for ‘indulging in litigation of luxury’ and which recorded that appeals were being filed as a default reaction and by indulging in ‘ego-fuelled’ litigation. But soon after, in a turnaround the Army headquarters had issued instructions to government lawyers to once again start filing appeals in the Supreme Court, against pension granted to disabled soldiers by the armed forces tribunals and the high courts.
In fact, a day after Surgical strike in PoK on September 30, the ministry of defence notified the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission regarding disability pension by changing it to slab system in place of percentage.
But facing flak from section of veterans, government had to withdraw the notification and a committee was set up to look into the anomalies. The new rules replaces the decade-old system governed by the Sixth Central Pay Commission (6th CPC) instituted in 2006 under which disability pensions arising from battle injuries, or disabilities attributable to/aggravated by military service, were calculated on a “percentage basis”, related to the last pay drawn.
According to officials until the September 30 notification, officers and soldiers, who had suffered 100 per cent disability in battle, were entitled disability pension that matched their last pay drawn.
In addition, they would draw a “service component” of pension, which amounted to 50 per cent of their last pay drawn.
Under the new rules, which is lower than the percentage system—`27,000 a month for officers, 17,000 for junior commissioned officers and `12,000 for all other ranks.