ATF slaps Rs 1 lakh fine on pension officer
(should be AFT, really!)
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 27.
Taking the pension disbursing authorities to task for virtually forcing a 100 per cent disabled soldier into litigation to get his due pensionary benefits, the Armed Forces Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the Defence Pension Disbursing Officer (DPDO), Pathankot.
The tribunal’s bench, comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen NS Brar, also granted liberty to the government to recover the said amount from the salary of the officer concerned.
The case related to a 100 per cent disabled soldier, Havildar Hari Singh of Manwal Upperala village near Pathankot, who was granted a constant attendance allowance (CAA) by the government on being medically boarded out. Vide orders issued in May 2009, the allowance was revised to Rs 3,000 per month after the 6th Pay Commission with retrospective effect from January 1, 2006.
However, the DPDO, Pathankot, instead of releasing the amount to the soldier from January 2006, paid it only from July 2009 onwards. Constant requests of the soldier as well as the Army to the DPDO fell on deaf ears. Thereafter the veteran was forced to knock the doors of the tribunal. On filing of the case, the DPDO immediately released the balance amount of about Rs 1 lakh.
The bench, however, took strong exception to the fact that economically weak, disabled veterans were being forced into litigation even on issues which did not require any interpretation or clarification by the authorities concerned. In the instant issue, the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) as well as the Army had issued clear directions to the DPDO for grant of arrears with effect from January 2006, but despite the orders issued in May 2009 the veteran was paid his dues in January 2011 and that too after he filed a petition before the tribunal.