MOD panel frowns on increase in awarding maintenance allowance to wives in military

The panel, in its report, has criticised the defence services for passing such orders in, essentially, what are private matrimonial disputes.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Published:March 31, 2016 7:21 pm
 Ministry of Defence, MOD panel, indian army, army allowance, salary army, indian navy, indian air force, wives of military officers, army families, defence minister, manohar parrikar, indian express, india news The Army, Navy and the Air Force Acts provide that the competent authority can impose a cut upto 33 per cent on pay and allowances which can be paid to the wife as maintenance on her application.

A panel of experts of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has slammed the defence services for passing orders granting maintenance allowance to wives of military personnel from their salaries, especially in Army, without due investigation and scrutiny.

The panel, in its report, has criticised the defence services for passing such orders in, essentially, what are private matrimonial disputes. The Army, Navy and the Air Force Acts provide that the competent authority can impose a cut upto 33 per cent on pay and allowances which can be paid to the wife as maintenance on her application. With growing matrimonial disputes, the number of such applications has increased in the last few years especially with the Army granting maintenance to the spouses on almost all applications through non-speaking orders without providing reasons.

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An expert committee constituted by the Defence Minister on litigation has however observed that the exceptional provisions are being invoked in a routine manner by defence authorities. It has also found that the system does not have the wherewithal or ability to examine the veracity or truthfulness of the allegations and counter-allegations of both parties which is basically a matter of evidence that can only be weighed and dealt with by civil courts under law legislated for this specific purpose. The panel has said that this exercise can only be carried out under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the relevant Marriage Acts, rather than the defence services getting into what may fundamentally be a civil or private dispute between a husband and his wife.

The panel has also observed that even the Army HQ has expressed concern on the issue and that maintenance is meant to tide over a difficult financial situation and not to lead life on someone else’s expense. It has recorded that the award of maintenance results in grave civil consequences for an individual wherein a cut is imposed on his pay and should be taken as a serious matter and not routine. Moreover, it may not be initiated on the fact whether the spouse is working or not but whether she has the capacity to work or not, further adding that a situation cannot be allowed to prevail wherein an otherwise qualified/educated spouse stops working or refuses to take up a job in order to claim maintenance.

The Panel has stated that though defence personnel have a bounden duty to maintain their families, such issues should be left to Courts to decide based on evidence. Surprised at the acceptance of an unusually high number of applications by the Army, the committee has questioned, “does it mean that it was found that out of the total applications received, such a high percentage of officers were found wanting in their familial and marital obligations? If yes, then what were the tools available to reach that conclusion?”

There has been a rise of litigation on the subject in the past. Recently, a Lt Col had averred that his wife held a Doctorate and also working in a real estate firm but still was awarded maintenance by the Army. Another officer had stated that his wife had a degree of MSc as well as BEd and was earning a huge amount from tuitions and he had elderly parents to look after but still deduction of arrears of maintenance had resulted in disbursement of more than Rs 30,000 to the wife per month while he was being disbursed a amount of just Rs 6000. Another serving Colonel had stated that was being expected put his earnings at the disposal of his wife who was fully qualified and competent to work and was actually working.

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  1. B
    Bk mishra
    Apr 5, 2016 at 2:06 am
    Examples cited r exceptional. In all the cases of grant of maint allce by army, qualification and earnings r very much taken into consideration and is granted in reqd cases only. Moreover, in defence forces, wived are equally trrsyef.
  2. A
    Oct 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm
    if its true than why still they provide maintenance to girl if she had leavve house at her own will and only considering girl side queries they put motion to maintenance allowance. from my view maintenance should only be granted after divorce only.
  3. A
    Oct 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm
    jitna money aj ki date mein army maintenance ke name per wives ko de ri hai uski jagah un paison se achi si guns topnotch ki lele wo jayada kaam ayegi bharat ki surakhsha kke liye army need it most as a girl i say this today law has become both deaf and dumb
  4. A
    Oct 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm
    why teating girls as a cruicial one boys are also important why discriminating the judgements only in favours of girls only why boys family have to produce evidences for their innocence even when they are not at fault why court doest ask for evidences from girl if she is suffering truely even without investigation girls complaint given supiriority and if a boy have to complait they say sir you have go through several procedures .
  5. A
    Awadhesh Kumar
    Apr 1, 2016 at 1:50 am
    Armed Forces or rather the NATION cannot afford to have their Forces personnel tied up in lengthy civil court cases . In fact there are enough laws existing on the subject on early hearing of cases involving military personnel.However civil courts are already too heavily burdened. Hence need is to evolve. We should create MILITARY TRIBUNALS manned by retired officers functional under administrative support at each HQ AREA to resolve such cases in a time bound frame.
  6. S
    S Subramaniam
    Apr 1, 2016 at 1:38 am
    If the MOD had decided to pay 33% of pay and allowances as a matter of routine, the wife also can claim 33% of pension and OROP when the Service personnel are alive.
  7. G
    Gursharan Jolly
    Mar 31, 2016 at 4:41 pm
    The commanding offr should be the right judge to fairly apportion the needs of the wife since he knows the couple well. The involvement of a court at this stage is a retrogade step. Let the couple try reconciliation first, courts should come in only if they fail and intend to divorce.. One cant have soldiers away in court cases
  8. M
    Apr 1, 2016 at 12:17 am
    law should take a realistic view of such complaints and reduce such happening
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