SC sets up panel to redress soldiers` monetary grievances

Last Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010 - 21:19

New Delhi: Anguished that a war widow was
getting a mere Rs 80 as monthly pension, just enough to buy a
kg of arhar dal, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered establishment
of a commission to look into the grievances related to salary,
pensions and other service conditions of the armed forces
personnel.

"The petitioner before us in the present case is a
widow Pushpa Vanti, whose husband was an Army major who had
fought in three wars (in 1948, 1962 and 1965) and was
decorated with 14 medals," said the Bench of Justices
Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra, praising the gallant
role of the husband.

"However, his widow, the petitioner is getting only Rs
80 per month as pension in these days when a kilogram of arhar
dal costs that amount," observed the Bench, while ordering
formation of the commission to look into the grievances of
Pushpa Vanti and others like her.

"We, therefore, direct the central government to set
up within two months from today a commission which shall be
called the Armed Forces Grievances Redressal Commission," the
court said.

It said the commission will be headed by former apex
court judge, Justice Kuldeep Singh, with a 1965 war veteran,
Lt General Vijay Oberoi, former Army vice chief, whose one leg
had to be amputated after a war, as one of its members.

The Bench appointed former Allahabad High Court Chief
Justice S S Sidhu as the commission`s vice chairman, besides
the former Army chief General V P Malik as its another member.

It noted that there was wide-spread discontent among
service personnel, both serving and retired, about their
salary, pensions, and other issues related to service
conditons.

"The Indian Armed forces are bravely defending the
borders of the country often standing on guard at a height of
20,000 ft and minus 30 degree celcius temprature day and night
so that the people of India can live, work and sleep in
peace," the Bench said.

"There is, however, widespread discontent among the
serving and former members of the armed forces and their
widows and family members regarding their service conditions
e.g. pay scales, allowances, anamolies regarding pensions,
widows benefits, promotion matters etc," the Bench observed in
its order.

"They have a feeling that the bureaucrats do not care
for them and do not properly address their grievances. As a
result thousands of ex-armed forces personnel have returned
their medals and some of them burn their artificial limbs,"
said the Bench, sharing the agony of the armed forces
personnel.

The Bench, however, clarified that the commission will
have only a recommendatry power in suggesting remedial
measures to the grievances of armed forces personnel.

It said the commission will be headquartered at
Chandigarh with several other offices at various other places
to be decided by Justice Singh.

PTI



First Published: Monday, November 15, 2010 - 21:19

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