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Military Digest | Disabled soldier awaits relief, AFT principal bench upset at orders not being implemented

The jawan, who belongs to 15 Kumaon, had suffered amputation of his leg below the knee in landmine blast in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2000.

The bench added that the charges against the appellants, officers in uniform behaving in a manner unbecoming of her position and character, were found to be established and they were was found to have violated the requirement of Army regulations governing proper conduct. (File)

The orders issued by Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) are increasingly being treated in a cavalier manner and this has drawn the ire of the principal bench of the tribunal. In a recent case, the bench comprising AFT chairperson Justice Rajendra Menon was left quite upset when it came to light that a soldier who had lost his leg in a landmine blast had not been paid compensation despite the fact that the AFT had repeatedly passed orders for compliance of its judgement in his favour.

The jawan, who belongs to 15 Kumaon, had suffered amputation of his leg below the knee in landmine blast in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2000. He had filed a case in the AFT in 2017 demanding higher payment of ex-gratia as the amount had been revised from time to time and that it was unfair that a cut off date had been put on the payment of ex-gratia each time it was revised to a higher amount.

Since the jawan had been retained in service with 60 per cent disability, he was told that as per the rules in vogue he was entitled to only Rs 20,000 as ex-gratia. During the course of the proceedings, the AFT had also found that ex-gratia payments to authorised category of personnel had been inordinately delayed and that some cases were still pending. The AFT had also found that for the same category of personnel, different slab rates of ex-gratia were prescribed. The concept of ex-gratia to battle casualty who are retained in service was introduced in 2013 and a distinction was made in the rates of ex-gratia for cases from May 1, 1999 onwards and those from January 15, 2009 onwards without any justification

The AFT ruled in favour of the disabled jawan in August 2021 saying that he should be paid ex-gratia of Rs 8 lakh as per current rate admissible to a battle casualty with 60 per cent disability. However, no action was taken on this judgement due to which the jawan was once again forced to approach the AFT which ordered that compliance should be reported by July 25, 2022 else coercive action will be taken and direction for personal appearance of officers concerned and taking contempt action against them for non-compliance of the order.

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Commenting on the delays in implementing orders of AFT, the principal bench said in its order dated June 1, 2022, “We are constrained to pass an order of this nature as in day-in and day-out, we find that the orders passed by this tribunal are not being complied with and the principal bench and every regional bench of the tribunal is burdened with the execution applications as on an average 20-25 execution applications are being filed in a day”.

The AFT bench also ordered that a copy of its order be forwarded to the Defence Secretary and the Chief of Army Staff for necessary compliance. Advocates dealing with similar matters say that it has become a routine for AFT orders to be challenged in Supreme Court on frivolous grounds and, thus, delaying justice to the appellants for several years by dragging the matter.

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Tour of Duty announcement put off again

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There was considerable buzz last week that the new system of recruitment named Agneepath/Tour of Duty would be announced shortly. However, it soon became clear that the announcement has once again been put off even as there have been a slew of opinion pieces by retired senior officers of the defence services cautioning against the new method of hiring contractual soldiers. While sources say the government is steadfast in its decision to introduce this new method of recruitment, there has been considerable opposition from within the defence officers community with many pointing out at the imminent dismantling of the old single class system of regiments. While there are arguments that a one class Army is the way forward in a modern India and that the British legacy of martial races theory of regiments must be discarded, there are counter arguments pointing out that the share of Army recruitment from states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan could fall drastically if the single class regiments are done away with under the Tour of Duty.

Meanwhile, with an amendment in rules having been made making retired Lt Generals eligible for the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, there has been quite a buzz on the possible name having been chosen. One of the names being spoken of is that of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd, former Eastern Army Commander. An officer of the 11 Gorkha Rifles, just as the former CDS late Gen Bipin Rawat was, Lt Gen Chauhan was known to be quite close to Gen Rawat. He has commanded the 19 Infantry Division in Baramulla, J&K and has served as GOC 3 Corps. A native of Uttarakhand, Lt Gen Chauhan works in close coordination with the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, in the National Security Council Secretariat after his retirement as GOC-in-C Eastern Command in May 2021.

First published on: 13-06-2022 at 12:28:51 am
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