From: ramantn sarma firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 02 April 2010 07:17
Cc: REPORT MY SIGNAL (CS Kamboj); TRUNCATED
Subject: DON'T TREAT SOLDIERS LIKE BEGGARS: SUPREME COURT
The comments passed by the honourable judges in the open Court will also be treated as part of their judgement. The Govt Counsel might have persuaded the Judges to tone down their written judgement to exclude the word 'Beggar', but this phrase may be quoted by many Veterans to support their struggle, in future.
Some Veterans have, to my mind have rightly accused the Organisation under which the Petitioner served, for the case being dragged to the level of Supreme Court. Brig Kamboj has requested for toning down our expression of anguish. He may have valid reason. But, unless such incidents are exposed, the Service HQ may not try & shake off its own culpability, in such matters. We have a number of examples like the cases of Nakra, Dhanabalan, Vains etc., where the Services HQ could have minimised the damage, by clearly & firmly telling the MOD of the mitigating factors in favour of the Petitioners or the affected lot of its own personnel, both serving & retired. Majors Pension is another classic example. Our long standing demand of OROP is also there.
I want to share my own experience in this regard. In 1970, a Major (Acting) from the EME Centre, Secuderabad, was hit by a Water Truck within the premises of the Centre. He was travelling on his scooter & was on duty. He was killed on the spot. A court of Inquiry was held which found the Driver of the Vehicle guilty. He was charged under Rash & Negligent Driving & sentenced.
After the trial of the Driver & his punishment, the widow of the Officer claimed for adequate compensation to educate & bring up her two Children. The main plea was that her husband in normal circumstances would have retired at the age of 50, but died due to no fault of his at the age of just 28. She worked out a figure of Rs 1, 83,000. The MOD felt that the amount claimed was exorbitant. The lady went to Hyderabad High Court. The MOD then directed the Army to counter the case, to bring down the amount of compensation to 80,000 or in that region. Arty Centre, Hyderabad was given the task to pursue the Court Case. I was appointed as the Officer to assist the Govt Lawyer.
After going through the case, I was convinced that the lady's claim was legitimate. Later, when I had the opportunity to talk to the Centre Commandant, I expressed my opinion. He readily agreed, with a comment, "you do not have to blame on some others to cut your own hand. The AHQ will do it for you". I conveyed our feeling to the Lawyer, who himself was astonished at the lack of sensitivity to the plight of a brother officer's widow. He volunteered with additional information that such frivolous cases are proceeded only by the Armed Forces. "Have you ever seen such cases in the MOD itself?"
Let the bye gones be bye gones. At least from now onwards, let the Services HQ show some gumption in resisting the directions from the MOD, which are based purely on a matter of convention that no remedy should be given without a legal battle.
The pronouncement of the Honourable Judges that, " Do not treat the Soldiers like beggars" is equally applicable to the Services HQ also.
(Col TN Raman, Convener IESM, Chennai)