Reacting to a report in The Indian Express highlighting the U-turn that the Ministry of Defence had taken by filing appeals in Supreme Court against disabled veterans in cases where they have been granted pension, Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, has written to the Defence Minister seeking his intervention in the matter.
Chandrashekhar, who is also a member of the parliamentary standing committee on defence and who has been speaking up for the rights of the serving defence personnel and the veterans, has pointed out to the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, that the MoD and the Army Headquarters are filing appeals against the disabled soldiers despite him having issued instructions about the issue.
The Indian Express, in its report on April 2, had highlighted that the veterans’ organisations have found out that despite the clear instructions from Parrikar not to go in for frivolous appeals against disability pension cases, the MoD and the Army Headquarters were filing appeals in the apex courts.
The MP also met the Defence Minister after the news report was published to discuss the matter of appeals being filed against the disabled soldiers and veterans. “This has come within weeks of you yourself having expressed concern over the routine filing of appeals in the Supreme Court in February 2016 and issuing guidelines to process the appeals by the defence services headquarters on whether to file an appeal or not,” the letter states.
The MP went on to say that while there may be isolated instances of misrepresentation or fraud that may require filing appeals against, these can be picked out by audits. “However, I urge you to put in place adequate safeguards so that there is no denial of disability benefits by incorrectly branding in-service disabilities as ‘neither attributable, nor aggravated by service’ and to have a more compassionate approach to dealing with each case of disability and pension claims so that soldiers with genuine cases are not inconvenienced,” the letter states.
Reminding the Defence Minister that, both, he and the Prime Minister, Narndra Modi, have openly called for reduction in litigation by the government against defence personnel, Chandrashekhar said that this has also found place in the BJP manifesto in the 2014 general elections. He added that corrective action must be taken so that the soldiers and their families should not have to undergo a long and arduous, and often expensive, battle in the courts.