SC sets up panel to redress soldiers` monetary grievances
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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.


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

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