Saturday, July 18, 2015
Parrikar forms panel on soldiers’ grievances
Vijay Mohan - Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 17
In an unprecedented step, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has set up a committee of experts to look into grievances related to service matters and pensions of Armed Forces personnel so as to initiate measures to minimise litigation and disputes in courts.
The orders for setting up the committee were signed by Parrikar yesterday. Consisting of five members, the committee will report directly to the Defence Minister and is mandated to submit its findings and recommendations within 60 days. The committee’s terms of reference include recommending broad institutional changes to mechanisms for redressal of grievances and holistically examine resolution of issues that have led to massive pending litigation.
According to sources, over 10,000 cases pertaining to service matters such as pay fixation, promotions, policy interpretation, pensions and military justice are pending before the Armed Forces Tribunal, the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
The committee members include Lt Gen Richard Khare, former Military Secretary; Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, former Adjutant General; Chandigarh-based High Court lawyer Major Navdeep Singh; and Kargil war survivor and blade runner Major DP Singh.
Terming it a historic progressive decision to bring comfort to serving and retired defence personnel, Major Navdeep Singh said formulating the committee was a watershed moment devoid of any political hues and in line with the Prime Minister’s directives that the government should be able to focus on the core functioning of its ministries and disputes should be resolved in-house so that aggrieved employees were not forced to approach the courts.
Ex-servicemen’s organisations have for long been calling for reduction in litigation, especially appeals initiated by the MoD against disabled soldiers in the past few years.