I had the occasion to meet the RM today for a duration of 45 mins in his South Block Office. The COAS was also present. A record of our discussion is appended below.
1. Disability Issues: The Hon’ble RM wanted a firsthand account of the effects of disability from a person who had undergone such trauma as against hearing it from other sources. Certain facts were conveyed including citing of personal examples which despite over twenty five years of consideration at various levels remain unresolved. A hard copy of all such issues was handed over to the RM.
2. Non-Implementation of Orders of SC/ Non Issue of Instructions on Disability Related issues of Def Pers including the following: -
(a) Na-Na Cases
(b) Less than 20% disability cases
(c) Disability when on leave
(d) Broad-banding for those who superannuated
(e) Broad-banding for those who took voluntary retirement?
(f) MOD is yet to issue letter for enhanced DP for enhanced pension WEF Sep`12, though case has been taken up by Service HQ.
Comments of RM: He said that all disability related issues would be taken up appropriately w.e.f. 13 Mar 2015.He assured me that we would soon see the issue of operative letters.
3. Additional Points: A few additional points regarding disability were also discussed with personal examples that would have an effect on the larger disabled environment of the disabled in the Armed Forces. These are enumerated below: -
(a) There no system of post disability trauma onset in any of the three services including counselling to enable a disabled soldier to start functioning anew albeit with a few parts missing. This needs immediate implementation.
(b) There has to be a clear cut divide between those placed in LMC in normal course and BC’s. This must percolate down to their employment and functioning. I suggested that for starters at least in the Army suitable disabled officers be posted in the AG’s & MS branches as only a disabled understands the effects of disability. Moreover such actions do not require any elaborate Govt sanctions.
(c) I submitted that “Constant Attendance Allowance” should be applicable suo moto to anyone with 50% disability especially as after superannuation all manner of physical support available in service ceases. The RMB should be the final authority with the PCDA (P) not having any say in this.
(d) Payment of double conveyance allowance, where authorised to disabled personnel should be as matter of course and not based on claims. We are all aware of who is authorised Government tpt is and who is not.
(e) All service group Insurances are private entities and should offer disability benefits to BC’s retained in service and who superannuate in the normal course.
The funds available are adequate and if necessary and additional levy on premium can cater for this aspect. To deny this to one segment is a violation of the principle of equality. Notwithstanding what the Govt provides in such cases as that is a part of a service obligation whereas group insurances are private funds meant for this. The RM was appreciative of this logic and even suggested a methodology for the COAS to consider.
The RM even mentioned that shortfalls if any could be made up by the MoD.
(f) As per AO 17/89 Battle Casualties have the option of taking disability pension as a capitalized value in service. However there is no provision of restoration of such commuted value as in the case of normal pension. Disability is for life and there needs to be a reconsideration of restoring the capitalized value after 15 years, for those who took this option, as in the case of normal pension. A detailed case study is as given below:
1. Reference AO 17/89.
2. On Superannuation every service personnel is entitled to service pension. This consists of the service element and the disability element. As a battle casualty I come under the purview of the AO ibid.
3. Personal Illustrative Case: I am 80% disabled due to battle injuries for life. As per AO 17/ 89 I was, entitled to, as were other BC’s, “War Injury Pay”. As per awards of the 4CPC, this was specified as “percentage of disability equivalent of percentage of pay drawn at the time of injury”. My pay at that point was approximately Rs 4200/- therefore I should have been entitled to 80% of which came to Rs 3360/- pm. This was later amended to “Not more than Rs 1500/- per month allowed for 100% disability due to normal service conditions”. This was to be proportionately reduced for lower percentages. Accordingly I was entitled to Rs 1200/- pm. A loss of 3360- 1200 = 2160/- As a result BC’s lost out on higher emoluments due to some change that was not noticed by those dealing with such cases.
4. A second provision of the AO was that one could take the capitalized value of this amount in service or await superannuation to get a disability pension. This was to be calculated for a time period of service to an age and service in the same rank that is in my case a Major. As can be seen I lost out on the following counts: -
(a) Reduction in overall authorized amount.
(b) No consideration for promotion beyond the rank of Major.
(c) No consideration for age applicable beyond the rank of Major.
5. I was paid such compensation after ten years of my injury. A request for interest on delayed payments was initially rejected till the Delhi High Court gave a ruling in my favour on which CDA (O) paid me the interest in the year 2000, i.e. after thirteen years of my injury and a court case lasting over two years.
6. The acerbic language of Army HQ, as a measure of no respect to battle casualties, stated, “ That the case stands closed and no further discussions would be appreciated” So much for winning a gallantry award and losing your limbs.
7. Appeal: Notwithstanding the above as in the case of commuted value of service element of pension that is restored after a finite period of 13/15 years, similarly the capitalized value of disability pension needs restoration after a suitable period of time. In my case, the capitalized value has been taken for the rank of “Major” superannuation was 50 years that I crossed in Jul 2001 a full four years before superannuating in 2005 in the rank of “Colonel”. Considering that the capitalized value was applicable from 12 Oct 1987 but paid to me in 1996, a total of 25 years have passed and therefore the disability element of pension paid as capitalized value in service now needs restoration, keeping in mind that the disability is for life and as one ages the effects become more debilitating.
(g) A staff check would show that there would be a handful of such personnel in such a predicament.
The RM gave out the status of OROP as on date. The salient features of which are as follows: -
(a) The final document duly cleared by the FA (Def) and signed by him is being fwd to the FM today. I.e. 11 Mar 2015.
(b) The amount worked out remains at Rs 8298 Cr.
(c) He is scheduled to meet the PM & FM on 16 Mar 2015 on the issue.
(d) He is adhering to the time schedule as indicated on 2 Mar 2015 to the IESM delegation. I.e implementation instructions by 31/3 15. At worst case 30/4/15.
(e) 86% of beneficiaries are JCO’s & NCO’s, The balance 14% divided between Officers and family pensioners i.e. Vir Naris.
There being no other points the meeting was closed.
Col Anil Kaul, VrC
11 Mar 2015
(Source- Face book post)