LETTER NO 4
We are indeed grateful to you for making it possible for us to get OROP finally. We shall ever remain grateful. Now that the OROP has been conceded let us put our shoulders together to tackle those issues that are responsible for our present state.
2. Our problem is not lack of good will of the leadership, it is the inimical elements. Imagine the MOD which is there to look after our interests to ensure for us the best, is the one which is opposing every thing that is good for us. The problem of lack of our communication with the leadership is what is needed to be addressed if you want to achieve anything on permanent basis.
3. This can not happen by off and on issuing orders to this effect. This can only happen by placing instruments on ground. The instruments that need to be established for ensuring regular institutionalised inter action are given below :-
- Standing Committee of Voluntary Associations (SCOVA).
- Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare.
- Representation of Armed Forces at the MOD.
- The Armed Forces Tribunal.
- The Ex-servicemen Resettlement Commission.
- Separate Pay Commission
4. I had written to the Prime Minister about these issues on 01 Jul 2014. He has very kindly taken a very serious note of my request and conceded SCOVA and designated it as Standing Committee on Welfare of Ex servicemen. Ex-servicemen Commission he had accepted through his Manifesto.
5. Of these accepted issues, while to work out the charter for Commission, consultations are going on at various levels, there is no news about Standing Committee for Welfare of Ex servicemen. The bureaucrats have been stonewalling this for the last 25 years. They are not going to concede it easily unless you kindly keep track of it. In 1991 I got it going in the MOD. They finding it too hot for their liking, quickly wound it up.
Please get these two accepted Instruments appointed so that these can start operating.
Separate Pay Commission
6. Soon after Fifth CPC, I realised that we can not get our rightful due unless we have our Separate Pay Commission. I pursued it relentlessly ever since. In 2013 it was conceded. It took 15 Years of my struggle to get it, but the Chiefs in their wisdom rejected it. You may consider granting this once again..
Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare
7. This Department was set up by the leadership in their wisdom to ensure that the problems of veterans could be taken care of with greater authority and effect. Unfortunately rather than use their additional authority to solve our problems the bureaucrats running the Department are instead misusing their powers to create even more difficult problems.
8. What is required is the restructuring of this Department with the staff being a mix of serving and retired soldiers of the Armed Force. This would to a great extent help in solving rather than creating problems for Veterans, which is happening now.
Representation of Armed Forces at the MOD
9. I am sure you are aware that the Armed Force are the only uniformed Service which has no representation at the decision making level in the controlling Ministry. Why? Are the Armed Forces untrustworthy or are they incompetent to handle their own affairs? It is neither. It is the fear of a coup that the bureaucracy has been creating in the minds of the leadership regularly that has resulted in total trust deficit. This kind of an attitude rather than prevent it, is a sure shot recipe for disaster.
10. This situation must be quickly reversed by placing Armed Forces officers at various decision making levels in the MOD. This will automatically ensure consultation and participation of the Armed Forces in all matters pertaining to them as per Prime Minister’s noble desire.
The Armed Forces Tribunal
11. The Veterans had been subjected to all along with problems emerging out of flawed orders or their wrong implementation. Some Veterans who refuse to accept the injustice go to the Courts for reprieve. That is when their troubles begin. If they get favourable decision from one Court the Govt drags them to the next higher Court. This process goes on till they are dead. When the orders come neither they are there nor are their problems.
12. The Leadership realising these difficulties decided to set up an Armed Forces Tribunal so that they could get a quick redressal of their grievances through judicial intervention if they could not get reprieve elsewhere.
13. Ever since the AFT was appointed in 2009 around ten thousand cases have been filed by serving soldiers and Veterans. Majority of these cases have been decided in favour of these suffering Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans. Almost in all those cases the MOD through Deptt of ESW have gone in for Appeal in higher Courts. The Armed forces agony has been prolonged by creating another level of judicial intervention rather than reducing it.
14. This has happened because the AFT has been placed under MOD and has been made toothless. The matter needs to be attended to by placing them under Ministry of Law and giving them all the powers of a High Court. Finally MOD be directed to treat all orders of the AFT as final unless there is serious violation of the Constitutional provisions.
15. The number of cases filed should be a matter of serious alarm for the leadership. The inimical elements to prejudice the minds of the leadership will project this phenomenon as a revolt against the Govt by the Veterans. In actual fact it is indicative of their malafide intentions for denying us our rightful dues at such an enormous scale. To tell you in simple words the actual situation? Almost every notification of any consequence, issued by the MOD is flawed and which denies us our rightful dues or takes away already granted facilities.
The Ex-servicemen Resettlement Commission
16. We are delighted that this all important instrument for Veterans welfare has already been announced by the President in his address to the Joint Session of the Parliament. This was first recommended by the High Level Committee headed by RRM, of which I was a Special Invitee, way back in 1984. The bureaucracy has been stalling it all this time.
17. What is required now is to keep a close watch on terms and conditions that are being worked out. The Babus should not be allowed to turn this also a toothless wonder like AFT.
18. The respected Prime Minister was kind to express his desire to see that all decision pertaining to Armed Forces are taken in consultation with them. This can not be achieved by passing orders now and then. This can only be achieved by placing instruments in place.
19. I hope you will take effective steps to ensure that this happens soon enough. The whole Veterans fraternity will be highly obliged and remain ever so grateful to you and the respected Prime Minister.
LEFT THUMB IMPRESSION
LT COL INDERJIT SINGH