Friday, June 17, 2011

Adarsh Housing not for Kargil War Widows: A new U- turn

DD News: Friday 17 June, 2011.
Union Minister for Rural Development and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Friday said the Adarsh Society land belonged to the state and was never reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.
In an affidavit filed before the two-member Adarsh Commission, set up to probe irregularities in scam-tainted Adarsh Society, Deshmukh said, "The records maintained with the office of the Collector of Mumbai clearly show that the land belonged to the state government. The ownership of the land was never an issue at any stage so far I am concerned."
Deshmukh further said that there was no reservation on the Adarsh Society land for housing of Defence personnel or Kargil war heroes either under the Development Plan for Greater Mumbai or under any of the policies of the state government.
Deshmukh's statement is similar to that of Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who filed an affidavit in this regard last week.
click here to read more
Adarsh plot never reserved for defence, war heroes: Deshmukh
India loses $16 bn every year due to corruption: Bedi
Chicago: India loses a whopping $16 billion a year due to corruption, IPS officer-turned social activist Kiran Bedi has said.

Britain Helps WWII Indian Veterans

Britain funds WWII veterans' well being By Vinod Kumar Menon Date: 2011-02-21 Place: Mumbai

Organisation set up to help veterans from the Commonwealth who fought for England has sent more than Rs 16 crore to India in the last decade alone

MORE than 50 years after the end of World War II, the British haven't forgotten the soldiers from India who fought as part of their army against the Germans and other Axis powers.

Ex sepoy Balu Davlu Dhabhole with his wife Bhagirati outside their house in Kolhapur

Following MiD DAY's sustained reportage of the pathetic state of these veterans and their widows (we broke the story with 'Republic of neglect' on January 26), a former British officer based in the city informed us of the existence of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL), which has been sending funds for these soldiers since the end of the war.

Surprisingly, even though the League has disbursed more than Rs 16 crore in the last 10 years alone (see box), officials from the Sainik Welfare Board and even some veterans themselves were unaware of its existence.

Lt Colonel (Retd) Graham Tullet, a former British Army officer who is part of the RCEL, said the League provides welfare support for ex-servicemen and women of Common-wealth countries who served the British Crown at some point in time and reside overseas.

Earl Haig founded the charity in 1921 and its scope increased following the Second World War. Today, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is the grand president of the League, which has 56 member organisations across 48 countries. It covers the Caribbean, West, East and Southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, the Pacific and Australasia.

RCEL acts as a link throughout the Common-wealth for local organisations set up to help these veterans. Financial support is also given to small self-help projects that can generate local income.

"The objective is to ensure that no eligible ex-serviceman or woman is without help in their time of need. When Britain was facing a bleak future, help arrived from all corners of the Commonweal-th. Now the people who helped us at such a critical time need our help and support. It is our turn to give," said Tullet.

'Show us the money'
Colonel (Retd) Shankarrao Nikam (91), who fought for the British Army and now lives in Kolhapur, was surprised to learn about the existence of the fund. "I have never heard of any such money coming into the country. And, if it is true, why do war veterans and their widows have to beg for a decent living even today? Where has the money gone?"

Colonel (Retd) Suhas Jatkar, director at the state department of Sainik Welfare HQ at Pune, too, admitted that he was unaware of the RECL and the help that it extends.

"We have a total of 9,183 beneficiaries under the World War II category. Of this, 1,396 are veterans and 7,787 are widows," said Jatkar.

Colonel (Retd) Akhil Sharma, general secretary, Indian Ex-Servicemen League (IESL), Delhi, said the organisation has been receiving money from RECL. As per their records, around 8,000 World War II veterans and their widows are alive across India, of which 463 are from Maharashtra, and they are given a monthly pension of Rs 300.

When informed about the discrepancy in the figure maintained by them and the Sainik Welfare Board, Sharma said that they go by the records maintained by their office in Mumbai, which takes care of Maharashtra.

Commenting on the discrepancy, an official from IESL's Mumbai said, "That may be because we do not advertise and ask people to come forward and register.

All those who voluntarily approach us and satisfy us with documents and records proving that they served the British Army in World War II are enrolled and their details are sent to our headquarters in Delhi. The monthly pension amounting to Rs 300 is sent to them from there."

Sharma said they receive approximately Rs 2 crore a year from RECL and the account of the fund is audited and a copy is sent to the UK.

1,396- Total World War II veterans alive today in Maharashtra
7,787- Total widows of World War II Veteran in Maharashtra
9,183- Total beneficiaries as on December 31, 2010
Britain Helps WWII Indian Veterans
Sad commentary on the Veteran Welfare of Soldiers in India indeed!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lokpal morphs to Jokepal Bill: Final destiny the Graveyard?

Jan Lok Pal bill: UPA’s great political coup
Comment: UPA manages to send the Jan Lok Pal Bill where it thought it belonged – the graveyard
The UPA government has just managed a political coup that will be envy of governments everywhere in the world.
Despite fasts, virulent protests and a countrywide nausea against corruption, it has managed to pivot the full circle and shepherd the Jan Lok Pal bill to where it thought it belonged - the graveyard.
Or, as Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the drafting panel from the civil society said, "government has killed the bill even before its birth".
That's what the 'one bill, two drafts' to be sent to the Union Cabinet proposal of the UPA government essentially amounts to.
The Union Cabinet, in other words, the government itself, will sit in judgment on the two drafts. And it's a no-brainer as to which draft - the civil society's or its own - the government will deign to chose.
Through the use of calumny, innuendoes, and by painting the spectre of threat to democracy by "unelected" players, the government has managed to confuse and obfuscate the issue.
The media and the public have swallowed the government's antics largely without protest or seeing through the attempts to shoot the messengers - the representatives of the civil society.
Jan Lok Pal bill: UPA’s great political coup
Related Reading
16/06/2011 Govt Lokpal bill is Jokepal: Team Anna
Anna to fast again from Aug 16; Govt. tells Hazare it will not succumb to threats

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

काला धन, मनी लॉन्ड्रिंग, बेनामी गुण

इतना फॉरवर्ड करो की एक आन्दोलन बन जाये
“दर्द होता रहा छटपटाते रहे, आईने॒से सदा चोट खाते रहे, वो वतन बेचकर मुस्कुराते रहे हम वतन के लिए॒सिर कटाते रहे”
280 लाख करोड़ का सवाल है ...
भारतीय गरीब है लेकिन भारत देश कभी गरीब नहीं रहा"* ये कहना है स्विस बैंक के डाइरेक्टर का. स्विस बैंक के डाइरेक्टर ने यह भी कहा है कि भारत का लगभग 280 लाख करोड़ रुपये उनके स्विस बैंक में जमा है. ये रकम इतनी है कि भारत का आने वाले 30 सालों का बजट बिना टैक्स के बनाया जा सकता है.
या यूँ कहें कि 60 करोड़ रोजगार के अवसर दिए जा सकते है. या यूँ भी कह सकते है कि भारत के किसी भी गाँव से दिल्ली तक 4 लेन रोड बनाया जा सकता है.
ऐसा भी कह सकते है कि 500 से ज्यादा सामाजिक प्रोजेक्ट पूर्ण किये जा सकते है. ये रकम इतनी ज्यादा है कि अगर हर भारतीय को 2000 रुपये हर महीने भी दिए जाये तो 60 साल तक ख़त्म ना हो. यानी भारत को किसी वर्ल्ड बैंक से लोन लेने कि कोई जरुरत नहीं है. जरा सोचिये ... हमारे भ्रष्ट राजनेताओं और नोकरशाहों ने कैसे देश को
लूटा है और ये लूट का सिलसिला अभी तक 2011 तक जारी है. इस सिलसिले को अब रोकना बहुत ज्यादा जरूरी हो गया है. अंग्रेजो ने हमारे भारत पर करीब 200 सालो तक राज करके करीब 1 लाख करोड़ रुपये लूटा.
मगर आजादी के केवल 64 सालों में हमारे भ्रस्टाचार ने 280 लाख करोड़ लूटा है. एक तरफ 200 साल में 1 लाख करोड़ है और दूसरी तरफ केवल 64 सालों में 280 लाख करोड़ है. यानि हर साल लगभग 4.37 लाख करोड़, या हर महीने करीब 36 हजार करोड़ भारतीय मुद्रा स्विस बैंक में इन भ्रष्ट लोगों द्वारा जमा करवाई गई है.
भारत को किसी वर्ल्ड बैंक के लोन की कोई दरकार नहीं है. सोचो की कितना पैसा हमारे भ्रष्ट राजनेताओं और उच्च अधिकारीयों ने ब्लाक करके रखा हुआ है.
हमे भ्रस्ट राजनेताओं और भ्रष्ट अधिकारीयों के खिलाफ जाने का पूर्ण अधिकार है.हाल ही में हुवे घोटालों का आप सभी को पता ही है - CWG घोटाला, २ जी स्पेक्ट्रुम घोटाला , आदर्श होउसिंग घोटाला ... और ना जाने कौन कौन से घोटाले अभी उजागर होने वाले है ........
इसे भी इतना फॉरवर्ड करो की पूरा भारत इसे पढ़े ... और एक आन्दोलन बन जाये
Govt seeks public views online on black money issue
Press Trust of India, Updated: June 15, 2011 17:50 IST 

Greed Breed of our Leadership and Corruption

Greed and fear are powerful human emotions, most misjudged though. However maligned these two might be their significance in shaping human behaviour cannot be ignored. And they are as desirable as they are despised. Curiously, absolute absence of these two intrinsic evils – call them so if you wish – of human nature will rob the individual of his prudence and useful social conduct. When responsibly handled these emotions enable us to add quality to life – others’ and ours – as life moves on in the civilised world. If evidence was needed in support of this fact, it flows straight from the universally preached and practised business principle: ‘highest returns from lowest investment’. It would be foolish in any corner of the world to practise the opposite of this principle: give more, take less.
Ironically, corruption springs straight from this theory. What we seldom acknowledge is that we are all corrupt in varying measures. It would therefore be utopian to expect total extinction of the evil called corruption. There has never been an era in human history – Ramayana and Mahabharata periods included – when corruption did not exist. Why we are crying against it today is because it has crossed our affordability limits. Secondly, the role of ‘fear’ has altered. Instead of inducing caution and fearfulness in the mind of the exploiter, it has now gone in reverse mode and seems to add an awesome, fearsome dimension to his position. Gone are the days of ‘under-the-table deals’; it is blatantly open and an over-the-table business now. Public ambivalence on such dealings has only encouraged the perpetrators of the evil because they are patronised by the same people who envy and hate them in private. Politics in India has become the most lucrative business with fastest rise in fortunes. As reported recently in newspapers, rise in wealth of our politicians averaged 300% or more depending upon the ‘capability’ and ‘capacity’ of the leader concerned within a period of five years as evidenced from the affidavits filed by MPs/MLAs. Who will not like to win over (or buy out) a pliable bureaucrat, judge or a politician willing to intercept and change the course of justice to favour their benefactors – be they from governmental hierarchy, cronies from fraternity or an interested ‘party’ from the public? Those who can pay can make the otherwise callous police and local administration move and act in their desired manner. Unlike other necessities of life, sex and money influence people in more curious ways – the more you have, the more you will want. Lust is nothing but excessive greed, which can drive you mad like it happened with the Home Ministry bureaucrat, Ravi Inder Singh who was arrested in November 2010 for selling state secrets in return for favours in sex and cash.
Fear can often lead to panic, which ultimately hampers decision-making abilities in individuals and establishments headed by leaders and officers so affected. The nation has seen manifestation of this phenomenon in the jittery responses of the Government in handling the recent public protests against corruption. First, the Government thought Anna Hazare was too tiny to deserve its attention. Later, when the nation rallied behind him in remarkable spontaneity, it scurried to appoint a joint drafting committee with a duly notified time frame to draft and legislate the Lokpal Bill as demanded by the ‘civil society’. Again, it made a mockery of statecraft in dealing with Baba Ramdev – first, it seemed going prostrate instantly conceding all his demands (some even weird!) even before he could step out of Delhi Airport. Even as their pleasantries went on, we saw a panic driven action by the authorities unleashing harsh and unprovoked police atrocities in dispersing a peaceful, harmless gathering in the sleepy hours of night at Ramlila ground in Delhi. Statecraft having been abandoned, witchcraft has taken over.
Corruption has now become Frankenstein’s monster in the Indian politics serving and scaring the greed breed of today’s leaders. No political party is happy to decry it enough except when it serves them in scoring over the opponents. Whereas political parties like Bharatiya Janata Party are quick to cash in on the rising public angst against the Congress/UPA, no political outfit has come out with open and unequivocal support for the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by the Anna Hazare - Arvind Kejriwal team nor for the measures proposed by Baba Ramdev against corruption and black money. The government is now reportedly considering declaring Jantar Mantar ‘out-of-bounds for protests and rallies’ and party spokespersons are indulging in trading cheap metaphors against each other with little concern to the real issues. ow long will the government keep running in circles to shoo away the monster of its own creation chasing it in the same circle? It is a clear case of a government running away from its people even as the people’s faith in their elected leaders is eroding pushing them to find better alternatives in cleaner and more sincere social servants like Anna Hazare. Col Karan Kharb (Retd)

ECHS: Bureaucratic hurdles sans Automation- Veterans health a Casualty

Letter to MD ECHS
From: vinay shankar
Date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM
Subject: ECHS issues

Dear Gen,
I sent an sms expressing my desire to talk to you. Since I did not receive any response I am sending this mail. I have for a variety of reasons been a reluctant user of the ECHS facilities. However a few months ago I decided that since this is a entitled facility I am being foolish by not availing of the ECHS. In this context I wish to share my two recent experiences:
  • First Experience
    My wife was admitted in the RR at about midday last week. The consulting physician wanted an urgent CT scan done on her. Since this facility was not available with the RR and it would take about 2-3 days to get a slot at the Base Hospital I was advised to go down to the ECHS office located within the RR premises. Met the OC of the ECHS. He saw my ECHS card and said that I would have to go to the Gurgaon Polyclinic since that was my dependency. I pointed out that if I were to go to Gurgaon at that time by the time I reached the ECHS timings would be over. He then telephoned the OC of the Base Hospital ECHS and requested him to do the needful. I reached the Base Hospital ECHS by about 1345h. Had to wait for the lunch break to be over. Managed to meet the OC by about 1405h. He immediately ordered his staff to do the necessary paper work. Must concede it was done in quick time and an ambulance from the clinic where I was supposed to go was also arranged. The place was Star Diagnostics in Tilak Nagar. The OCs staff also advised me to carry the complete case sheet in addition to the Form that they had provided. Later when I was on my way to the RR I looked at the Referral Form that the ECHS had given me. It curiously had a stamp to indicate that the choice of Star Diagnostics was mine. You can draw your own inference on this. At no time was I given options from which I could choose. When taking my wife from the RR I asked the Duty NO for my wife's case sheet. She firmly indicated that that was not required and the Polyclinic form would be enough. At the Star Clinic the moment the receptionist was handed over the ECHS form her attitude became somewhat discourteous. She asked for the case sheet and when I said that I do not have it she responded to say that then the test cannot be done. After about half an hour's telephonic back and forth she agreed to the test provided I committed to bringing the case sheet when we went to collect the report. I again responded that I will bring it if the hospital authorities agree to giving me the case sheet. Altogether we found the attitude of all the staff at the Star Clinic that gave one the feeling of being talked down to, as if every one was doing you a favour. Again before going to collect the report we asked for the case sheet. As expected that was declined. Consequently after a fair amount of haggling and complaining we managed to obtain the report. To say the least the experience was quite harrowing.
  • The Second Experience
    In May I had gone to the ECHS to get a referral to have my eyes checked for cataract. I was given the form for Eye Q Hospital at Gurgaon. Again without being offered options. Due to various commitments I could not visit the Eye Hospital since then. This morning when I went to the hospital I was told that the validity of the referral is only for a week and that I will have to obtain a fresh one. From the Eye Hospital I went down the office of the OC ECHS Gurgaon. Entered his office wished him 'good morning and then sat down. The OC did not deign to acknowledge my greetings. After his staff left the office he turned to me with an inquiring look. I placed the referral papers in front of him and pointed out that though the form does not any where indicate a time limit the Hospital had declined to accept the form. He aggressively asked why had I not gone immediately after obtaining the referral. I explained that some unexpected commitments had cropped so I could not go and also pointed out that the stipulation of one week should have been pointed out to me. Now he rudely responded to say that it was my responsibility to have found out. Before leaving his office I also pointed out that he could consider responding to greetings from visitors since he had not acknowledged my 'good morning'. He did not take that well either. I fully understand the complexity and the challenges of running this organisation. Yet I believe it is my duty to bring to your notice what users experience.
    With regards,
    LT Gen (retd) Vinay Shankar
  • Memorial for Indian Soldiers in Belgium

    Retrieved from [MARCH 21, 2011]

    India lost about 8500 Indian soldiers in World War I in Flanders and adjoining regions of Belgium and France during World War I. To commemorate the sacrifice of these soldiers an Indian Memorial was constructed in 2002 on the lawns of the ‘Menin Gate Memorial’. In 2011 this Memorial has been replaced with a newer one. A ceremony was held on 12th March 2011 in Ypres to unveil this new Memorial.
    Memorial for Indian Soldiers in Belgium

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Saga of One Rank One Pension

    After Independence and the installation of a democratic National Government, consideration of loyalty and devotion to duty were cast aside over the monetary considerations. As a result, the grants, pensions and other concessions for those killed in action or wounded in war fell so miserably low that it almost amounted to Soldiers' families being thrown out on the streets. The Soldiers did not realise the impact till the J & K operations were over in 1949.

    Maj Gen Sukhwant Singh, in his Book, ' The Liberation of Bangladesh' narrates the following incident. I quote,
    "Lt Col (later Maj Gen) Rawind Singh Grewal, who had received a machine gun burst straight in his stomach and leg in J & K operations, was hospitalised for a period longer than stipulated for the retention of acting rank and was brought down to his substantive rank of Captain after 28 days. This officer is said to have walked up to Cariappa, then Chief, and pointing to his scars, said: "Sir, do you think I got these wounds for the benefit of my health? The reward for risking my life for the sake of my country has been loss of rank and pay. Trust me to fight for you again. Goodbye, Sir."

    Cariappa and other successive Chiefs were well aware of the problems of maintaining the morale of the fighting men under such circumstances. But nothing substantial could be achieved against the callous attitude of money conscious Politicians & the hide-bound bureaucracy. The 1950s saw the period of our National Policy of trimming the Armed Forces, under the Nehru Doctrine. The year 1962 awakened the Nation to reality. But, after the Chinese debacle, no Chief could have strongly demanded for the Pay Hike. The opportunity rose after our performance in 1965, War against Pakistan. But, the initiative ended with a few State Govts distributing some grants & awards to the soldiers belonging to their States. After this operation, the AHQ carried out a study and found out that in Sino Indian Conflict 1962 and Indo Pak conflict 1965, the Indian soldier was successively taking fewer risks under fire. The old Soldier was fading out and with him the sense of loyalty and duty. The new Soldier was brought up on the fast changing value of Rupees. He being the sole bread winner of his family, naturally and justifiably his domestic responsibility weighed more on him.

    The reason was not far to seek. Take the case of Gunner Arumugam from the Artillery. After the end of his colour Service of seven years in 1961, he was sent home, without pension. He was recalled to active Service in 1962, since he had a reserve liability of eight years. After the Chinese war, in 1964 he was again sent home. He was recalled to active service again, in 1965, fought the Indo Pak War. He was finally discharged in 1966, without pension since he did not complete 15 years of continuous service to earn the minimum pension.

    The Nation had utilised the Services of a Jawan, in the most economic way, without an iota of shame. After braving the enemy bullets in two wars, the Jawan was sent home, literally, to beg on the streets. Leave the Politicians and Bureaucrats alone. What did our own establishment, consisting of Officers who were commissioned under the oath of Chetwode do? It was a pity that the Senior Officers in those days, (not any different from the present day), chose to put the blame on the Government and the regulations made by it. Not a single case was taken up with the Government to revisit the Pension regulations for the Army, in view of extra ordinary circumstances of Jawans like Gunner Arumugam or Lt Col GS Grewal and scores of others. They could have been granted pension or retention of their acting ranks as special cases. Even the Courts of Law would have up held their cases for justice. But, our own hierarchy found it fit to keep silent.

    Since Sam Manekshaw, in 1971, stood his ground and refused to launch his Offensive against East Pakistan in March 1971 itself, he had sufficient time to address the problems of the soldiers' sagging morale. His aim was to ensure that every soldier went to battle, fully assured that the Nation would look after the welfare of his family, even if he lost his life, or wounded or missing or taken as PW, during the war.

    With his initiative and clout over the then Prime Minister, a slew of benefits were announced, some of which had far reaching effect. Special consideration for the War widows, who were encouraged to start new lives by remarrying without the loss of pension benefits, 75 % of the basic pay sanctioned to them as Pension, liberalised disability pensions etc., ensured that the Soldiers went into 1971 War with a better frame of mind and morale. It was unfortunate that the proverb "God and Soldiers are remembered only during calamities" proved right once again.

    The Third CPC, belied the expectation of the Armed Forces. That also after its glorious victory in 1971. Unfortunately, Sam was no more in the Chair. Not that it would have made any difference against the bureaucratic zeal of gaining the parity in Pay & Pension with the Armed Forces.

    The major blame for this debacle should be shared by the Officers of the Armed Forces, who were blissfully ignorant of what was happening to their own Rank & File. Those were the days when every Officer was told that the CDA(O) would look after all their pay & allowances problems. Hardly any discussion, even as a matter of education, was held about the CPCs & their misdemeanor.

    Below is a relevant extract of the Memorandum, submitted by the IESM, to the Committee of the Rajya Saba. (An excellently drafted piece and our complements to the team headed by Lt Gen Raj Kadyan and backed by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, Col RP Chaturvedi and Hony Capt K Pandey). I quote :-

    Civilianisation of Military Pensions
    As long as the Armed Forces remained out of the purview of the National Central Pay Commissions (CPC), the existing structure continued. Military pensions continued to be higher than that of the other Central Government employees. The government however decided to bring the Defence Forces under the purview of CPCs starting from the 3rd CPC. That the conditions of service and the terms of reference for the Defence Forces were very much different was ignored. Ironically, it happened in 1973, just after the country had won a major war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The 3rd CPC rerecorded that pension should be treated as a standby in times of adversity. The financial weightages done away with and was replaced by an arbitrary weightage of years of service to compensate for the truncated career of defence forces employees. The fact that most JCOs and below left after initial engagement/ colour service without pension was not addressed. (It was left to Shri Jagjivan Ram to later extend the service to 15 years and make it pensionable). The impact of this move on the shortages of recruitment was immediately felt.

    The 3rd CPC in order to civilianise the Military pensions, related pension to last pay drawn (LPD) as a percentage rather than relating to rank as heretofore had been done. The cadre and pay structure wherein defence personnel moved much more slowly to reach higher ranks/pay scales was totally overlooked. This resulted in Military pensions falling way behind their civilian counterparts, not withstanding the weightage in years given for truncated career.
    The Defence Forces were palpably upset. Therefore, the government appointed a committee under KP Singh Deo, MOS (Defence) to look into the ‘Non Effective Benefits of ESM Pensioners’. The Committee recommended that service pensions/retiring pensions should revert to being rank-based. In fact it went one step ahead; Service pensions should not only be rank-based but all vintages of pensioners should receive the same quantum of pension. A new term was thus coined namely One Rank One Pension (OROP). The government announced in the Lok Sabha that it had accepted 26 of the Committee’s recommendations barring one, namely on OROP which it was examining for implementation. KP Singh Deo Committee’s view was that Military pensions as these existed prior to 3rd CPC should be restored. Since Rank played a very important role in the military, reflected its ethos and is allowed to be retained as per our Constitution ever after retirement, pensions had to be rank-based. Every substantive officer, JCO and others should receive the pension of the rank held on retirement irrespective of their vintage and date of retirement. Besides, the pensions also had to be periodically enhanced and updated.
    Veteran Raman

    High Court ruling can make the Armed Forces Tribunal infructuous

    The Delhi High Court has recently ruled that High Courts are constitutionally empowered to review decisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal, even though the Armed Forces Tribunal Act stipulates that such appeals lie directly with the Supreme Court. The Tribunal was set up for quick redressal of grievances and judicial review of court martial orders, relieving the High Courts of a huge backlog. The ruling defeats this very purpose and takes us back to square one.
    High Court ruling can make the Armed Forces Tribunal infructuous by Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)

    THE defence services had been clamouring for an Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) for decades, essentially because the civilian courts took years and even decades to decide their cases. These inordinate delays had an adverse impact on discipline, morale and functioning of the military. Take just two cases. The Sixth Pay Commission gave Brigadiers more pension than Major Generals. It took the Punjab and Haryana High Court three long years to address this simple anomaly. Some five years later the case is still doing the rounds of the Supreme Court. Air Vice Marshal Masand, with outstanding service record and a pilot of great repute with the Vir Chakra to his credit, was superseded for promotion to the rank of Air Marshal. Long after he retired, he is still fighting his case in the civilian courts. Perhaps his children will have to continue the fight after he has left the scene.

    Since the AFT has come into existence, its benches spread across the country have done a commendable job and have been deciding cases, not only with great scrutiny and application of mind, but with equal promptitude. They are moving quicker that the fast track courts, reinforcing the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied.They have been able to decide cases that have been hanging fire in civilian courts for as long as half a century. Though the AFT is established on the lines of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), they differ in one essential aspect in that the AFT reviews cases of defence services which have separate laws and courts of their own. These courts have full judicial powers. The AFT was set up after long prevarication, dithering and delay, recommendations of the law commission and innumerable articles in the national press pressing for its dire need.

    The composition of the AFT was worked out with a view to relate it to the composition of the courts whose verdict, besides other service issues, it would also be called upon to review. This was so because civilian courts are generally not conversant with the military's working, systems, ethos, environment, and the circumstances under which it is required to operate and discharge its duties in peace and war. These special conditions require a rigorous law, quite apart from the general civilian laws. There was a time that for this obvious reason, civilian courts were somewhat reluctant to take on the military's cases. However civilian courts, for no apparent reason, now seem to adopt an altogether different approach.

    As per the AFT Act, rulings and verdicts of the AFT can be reviewed only by the Supreme Court. The very purpose of setting up the AFT was to provide a dedicated forum for quick redressal of grievances and judicial review of court martial orders with the provision for just a one-stage review (Supreme Court in this case) for armed forces personnel, as disposal of cases in civilian courts took a long time and this inordinate delay impinged on the discipline and good order in the defence services.

    The Delhi High Court, in its recent ruling noted that High Courts are constitutionally empowered to review decisions of the AFT, not withstanding the fact that the Armed Forces Tribunal Act of 2007 stipulated that appeals against AFT's orders would rest directly with the Apex Court. A Division Bench comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait further ruled, "AFT, being manned by personnel appointed by the executive, albeit in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, cannot be said to be truly a judicious review forum as a substitute to High Courts that are constitutional courts and the power of judicial review, being a basic feature of the Constitution, under Article 226 and Article 227 of the Constitution is unaffected by the constitution of the AFT." Further, tribunals can perform a "supplemental as opposed to a substitutional" role vis-a-vis the high courts, the bench held.

    The AFT was set up to exercise appellate jurisdiction with respect to orders, findings or sentences of court martial and exercise original jurisdiction with respect to service disputes. This ruling puts the very purpose of having an AFT somewhat infructuous and takes us back to square one. It is in fact, a leap forward into the past. It will bring about the same painful and frustrating delays and their impact on the military's discipline and functioning as they existed before the promulgation of the AFT Act. The Delhi High Court, in its infinite wisdom, deep understanding of the Constitution and legal acumen, has turned the very idea and rationale of setting up the AFT on its head.

    Now article 227(4) of the Constitution, on which the Delhi High Court has relied in passing the above noted order, provides superintendence of High Court over all courts/tribunals falling in its jurisdiction but it specifically excludes court martial cases. Therefore and quite simply and logically, it cannot have power of superintedence over the Armed Forces Tribunal that has appellate jurisdiction over verdicts of court martial cases. Further when there is specific provision for appeal against verdicts/orders of the Tribunal under sections 30/31 of the Act to only the Supreme Court, then how could a writ petition be entertained by a high court.

    High Courts are already overloaded with work and the backlog runs into a million cases and it is to bypass this legal quagmire and the necessity for quick disposal of defence services cases that the AFT Act of 2007 was promulgated by the government as an act of Parliament and as such became a law, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was in the consultative loop. In case the rulings of the AFT are to be subjected to review by the high courts and later by the Supreme Court then the purpose of establishing the AFT is defeated.

    On an earlier occasion, a High Court gave a ruling that court martial should record a "speaking order". Now the composition and working of a court martial is akin to the jury system, which for too obvious a reason does not record a "speaking order". Unfortunately, defence services did not contest this ruling in the Supreme Court and court martial proceedings are now required to be accompanied by a speaking order. The judge advocate, who is on the court martial merely to render advice to the members on purely technical legal issues and has no voting right, is the only one who is qualified to write a speaking order. Consequently the judge advocate has come to exercise undue influence over the court, which in reality and practice has altered the very character and working of the court martial.

    To avoid inevitable delays in the finalisation of defence services cases dealt by the AFT, in case these are subjected to review by the High Courts as well, the order of the Delhi High Court must be contested in the Supreme Court by the service headquarters. The need for early disposal of defence services cases hardly needs any emphasis.
    The writer is a former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff

    Fact File
    The Armed Forces Tribunal was inaugurated on August 8, 2009. It came into being after the Armed Forces Tribunal Act was passed by Parliament in 2007.
    The Act provides for adjudication by the tribunal of disputes and complaints about commission, appointments, enrolment and service conditions in respect of those covered by the Army, Air Force and Navy Acts, respectively, and hearing of appeals arising out of orders, findings or sentences of court martial. The Tribunal has original jurisdiction in service matters and appellate jurisdiction in court martial matters.
    In addition to the Principal Bench located at New Delhi, it has eight regional benches comprising one or more courts at Kochi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Guwahati and Chandigarh.
    Each court is held by a two-member bench comprisng the judicial member, a retired High Court judge and an administrative member, a retired service officer of the rank of Major General or above. This enables the court to draw upon legal as well as service expertise while deciding cases. Most cases pertaining to armed forces personnel that were earlier pending before various High Courts have been transferred to the AFT.

    Quote — unquote
    "The Sixth Pay Commission gave Brigadiers more pension than Major Generals. It took the Punjab and Haryana High Court three long years to address this simple anomaly.
    The Tribunal is moving quicker than the fast track courts and it has been able to decide cases that have been hanging fire in civilian courts for as long as half a century.
    The judge advocate has come to exercise undue influence over the court, which in reality and practice has altered the very character and working of the court martial."
    High Court ruling can make the Armed Forces Tribunal infructuous

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Facilities for Physically Challenged Veterans

    CSD Canteens, Polyclinics, Sainik Boards, Sainik Aramgarh's and other welfare buildings need to have special friendly features incorporated. Few aspects that need attention are highlighted as under:
    Access Path/ Walk Way
    Access path from the entry and surface parking to Building entrance shall be minimum of 1.8M wide having even surface without any steps. Slope if any. shall not have gradient greater than 5:1. Selection of floor material shall be made suitably to attract or to guide visually impaired persons (limited to coloured floor material whose colour and brightness is conspicuously different from that of the surrounding floor material or the material that emit different sound to guide visually impaired persons here in after referred to as " guiding floor material". Finishes shall have a non slip surface with a texture traversable by a wheel chair Curbs wherever provided should blend to a common level.
    For parking of vehicles of handicapped people the following provisions shall be made.
    a) Surface parking for two car Spaces shall be provided near entrance for the physically handicapped persons with maximum travel distance of 30M from building.
    b) The width of parking bay shall be minimum 3.60M.
    c) The information stating that the space is reserved for wheel chair users shall be conspicuously displayed.
    d) Guiding floor materials shall be provided or a device which guides visually impaired persons with audible signals or other devices which serves the same purpose shall be provided.
    The specified facilities for the building for physically handicapped persons shall be as follows.
    1. Approach to plinth level
    2. Corridor connecting the entrance exit for the handicapped.
    3. Stair-ways.
    4. Lift.
    5. Toilet.
    6. Drinking water.
    Approach to plinth level
    Every building should have at least one entrance accessible to the handicapped and shall be indicated by proper signage. This entrance shall be approached through a ramp together with the stepped entry.
    Ramped Approach
    Ramp shall be finished with non slip material to enter the building minimum width of ramp shall be 1.8M with maximum gradient 1:12. Length of ramp shall not exceed 9.0M. having 0.8M high hand rail on both sides extending 0.3M beyond top and bottom of the ramp. Minimum gap from the adjacent wall to the hand rail shall be 5cms.
    Stepped Approach
    For stepped approach size of tread shall not be less than 0.3M. and maximum riser shall be 15cm. Provision of 0.8M high hand rail on both sides of the stepped approach similar to the ramped approach.
    Exit Entrance Door
    Minimum clear opening of the entrance door shall be 0.9M and it shall not be provided with step that obstructs the passage of a wheel chair and user threshold shall not be raised more than 1.2cm.
    Entrance Landing
    Entrance landing shall be providing adjacent to ramp with the minimum dimension 1.8Mx2M. The entrance landing that adjoin the top end of a slope shall be provided with floor materials to atract the attention of visually impaired persons (limited to coloured floor material whose colour and brightness is conspicuously different from that of the surrounding floor material or the material that emit different sound to guide visually impaired persons hereinafter referred to as "guiding floor material".
    Finishes shall have a non slip surface with a texture travarsable by a wheel chair. Curbs wherever provided should to a common level.
    Corridor connecting the entrance/ exit for the handicapped
    The corridor connecting the entrance exit for handicapped leading directly outdoors to a place where information concerning the overall use of the specified building can be provided to visually impaired persons either by a person or by signs shall be provided as follows.
    a) "Guiding floor materials" shall be provided or devices that emit sound guide to visually impaired persons.
    b) The minimum width shall be 1.5M.
    c) in case there is a difference of level slope ways shall be provided with a slope of 1: 12
    d) Hand rails shall be provided for ramps slope ways.
    Stair ways
    On of the stair - ways near the entrance exist for the handicapped shall have the following provisions:
    a) The minimum width shall be 1.350M.
    b) Height of the riser shall not be more than 15cm. and width of the tread 30cm. The steps shall not have abrupt (square) nosing.
    c) Maximum number of risers on a flight shall limited to 12.
    d) Hand rails shall be provided on both sides and shall extend 30cm on the top and bottom of each flight on steps.
    wherever lift is required as per bye-laws. provision of at least one lift shall be made for the wheel chair user with the following cage dimensions of lift recommended for passenger lift of 13 persons capacity.
    Clear internal depth 1100mm.
    Clear internal width 2000mm.
    Entrance door width 900mm.
    a) A hand rail not less than 60cm long at 100cm above floor level shall be fixed adjacent to the control panel.
    b) The lift lobby shall be of an inside measurement of 1800x1800 mm or more.
    c) The time of an automatically closing door should be minimum 5 seconds and the closing speed should not exceed 0.25 sec.
    d) The interior of the cage shall be provided with a device that audibly indicates the floor the cage has reached and indicates that the door of the cage for entrance exit is either open or closed.
    One special W.C. in a set of toilet shall be provided for the use of handicapped with essential provision of wash basin near the entrance for the handicapped.
    a) The minimum size shall be 1000x1750 mm.
    b) Minimum clear opening of the door shall be 900 mm. and the door shall be swing out
    c) Suitable arrangement of vertical horizontal hand rails with 50 mm clearance from wall shall be made in the toilet.
    d) The W.C. seat shall be 500 mm from the floor.
    Drinking Water
    Suitable provision of drinking water shall be made for the handicapped near the special toilet provided for them.
    Designing for Children
    In the buildings meant for the predominant use of the children. it will be necessary to suitably alter the height of the hand-rail and other fittings & fixtures.
    Related reading
    QMG lays down priority for Physically Challenged Veterans

    No spunk to condemn or nerve to support Lokpal Bill

    Dear Veterans,
    Here's a good article for all to introspect and do something. Felt like fwd it to you just because it is so different. You may also share it with other friends if so desire.

    Dear All,
    As the crusade against corruption rages, those feeling challenged by the groundswell of public support for the campaign are getting jittery. As we move on, different thoughts come to mind. No doubt the politicians, bureaucrats and judges will fight tooth and nail to see that the effectiveness of Lokpal Bill is reduced to the minimum level. A consensus draft emanating from the Joint Drafting Committee is highly improbable. Even if a miracle happens and the Committee does agree on a commonly agreed draft, all political parties are going to fight it unitedly and maul it on the floor of the House (Parliament) before passing a dysfunctional institution. Referendum may be the right weapon to force the Parliament to accept what is urgently needed in national interest.

    The BJP is supporting the Baba, not his demands and measures against Black Money or corruption. All parties are stunned at the spontaneity and size of public support for Anna Hazare. No one has the spunk to condemn their demands; no one has the nerve to support these either! They are busy innovating tricks. The Baba's campaign appears to have been already hijacked in a manner that will shift focus from the main issue - corruption.

    In the article click here, I have tried to analyse some practical aspects concerning all of us and proposed some measures that the civil society might consider. Your comments and advice can be of even higher value.
    Col Karan Kharb Retd
    Pranab criticizes civil society for undermining democratic institutions
    Doublespeak: PM, judiciary should be under Lokpal's ambit: Digvijay
    Question: Will India have a toothless Lokpal Bill in the immediate Future? Many commissions and committees are daily instituted to delay and negate the Lokpal Bill! Enactment of the toothless Bill will lead to more dramatics in Parliament!
    Lokpal Bill on death bed
    The bottomline: No Lokpal Bill on the lines proposed by Team Anna; a watered-down bill may be presented to Parliament; no talks or commitments to Baba Ramdev; unite political parties by harping on parliamentary supremacy. In short, no freedom from corruption.


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