All Current Affairs
News of the Day Row after Army says disability pension
- July 5, 2019
- Posted by: Shivam
- Category: NEWS Worth To Read
News of the Day
Row after Army says disability pension to be taxed to stop exploitation
The row over the army’s decision to impose tax on disability pension drawn by soldiers has deepened, with the force insisting that the move is necessary to check misuse and several retired officers and experts objecting to the benefit being withdrawn.
The army’s main argument is that the force is witnessing a worrying trend of more soldiers seeking disability pension for monetary benefits even when their medical condition is an outcome of their lifestyle. But those opposed to the move are demanding that it be reversed as genuine disability cases should not be made to suffer due to the actions of a few unscrupulous people.
A medical downgrade entitles a soldier to better retirement benefits. On average for the same rank, a disability pension can be 20 to 50% more than a normal one, plus tax exemption.
As the controversy over disability pension peaked, the army on Tuesday wrote a series of tweets along with an explanatory note on the issue highlighting why the move was necessary.
“Over the years, broad-banding and compensation awarded for disability with income tax exemption has led to rise in personnel seeking disability, even for life style diseases. The trend is worrisome that too when the security challenges to the Nation are on the rise,” the army tweeted, drawing angry reactions from veterans on the micro-blogging website.
The army’s tweets came after finance minister NirmalaSitharaman tweeted the disability pension note with the heading ‘Response of the Armed Forces on the issue of taxability of disability pension.”
It is not an impulsive move but a well-thought out decision to curb misuse after a detailed internal study, two senior officials said on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity. “Alarmed over the rising number of soldiers seeking disability, the army conducted a study on how to disincentivize disability pensions,” said one of the officials cited above.
Cases of soldiers with lifestyle diseases seeking disability pension have come to light in recent years and this is not the same as getting wounded or disabled in the line of duty, said the second official.
“The army is concerned for all personnel who are invalidated out of service in combat conditions or otherwise, and need additional support and discourages those who seek financial gains through their disabilities,” the army tweeted on Tuesday.
Some experts said the move was unwarranted and the problem, exaggerated.
More than the exemption part of it, I am worried how disabilities in the military are being demonised to justify the action. Disabilities such as heart disease etc are covered under rules as affected by stress and strain of service and we should rather take steps to care for such personnel and improve the health profile of the army. Instances of manipulation are also grossly exaggerated,” said Major Navdeep Singh (retd), a lawyer who was on the expert committee set up by the defence ministry in 2015 to reduce military litigation.
Former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd) said some people may have misused the provisions of disability pension but that should not result in genuine cases losing out on benefits. “People who are abusing the provisions have to be held accountable. This trend of soldiers claiming disability pension towards the fag-end of their careers needs to be curbed. But the nation needs to take care of soldiers disabled in the line of duty and they should be entitled to tax benefits,” said Jaswal.
Army officials said claims for disability pensions have risen significantly following the implementation of the sixth pay commission report in 2006 that enhanced benefits.
Lieutenant General BK Chopra (retd), who headed the armed forces medical services during 2014-16, said a scrutiny of records during his tenure showed that before 2006 hardly any of the top officers claimed disability pension but by 2015, almost 21% of them were claiming benefits.
“A distinction has to drawn between disability attributed or aggravated by military service and lifestyle diseases that are manageable,” he said on Wednesday.
RDX, ammonium nitrate used in Pulwama attack, says forensics
Four and half months after the deadly attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Kashmir’s district, in which 40 troopers were killed, forensic experts have finally submitted their report on the explosives used by the Jaish-e-Mohammad in the high-intensity bomb, according to two senior officials in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Experts of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Delhi, which functions under the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has concluded that the explosive used in the February 14 suicide bombing was a mixture of “RDX” and “ammonium nitrate”, which was assembled in a jerry can before it was placed in a MarutiEeco car.
An NIA officer who asked not to be named said: “We have received the final report. It will be the most important (piece of) evidence in the charge sheet, which will be filed soon”.
Based on the forensic report, the investigators believe that the RDX was mixed by JeM in the bomb to multiply the impact of the blast.
The second NIA officer, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the impact was so strong that everything melted. The explosion was heard by locals several kilometers away and it took forensic experts days to pick the DNA samples from the site.
Indian intelligence agencies told investigators right away that military grade RDX was used and that this explosive was provided to terror outfits by the Pakistani military. They also suggested that the explosive was brought to India in different tranches in the months leading up to the attack.
When asked about the quantity of explosive used in the bomb, the second officer said it is usually guesswork in such explosions, but that be believes 30 to 50 kg of explosives were planted in the jerry can.
Aadil Ahmad Dar, a JeM terrorist from Kashmir, carried out the suicide bombing on February 14 when he drove the car laden with high intensity explosives into the convoy.
The Indian government retaliated for the attack by launching an air strike on a JeM training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area following which the two countries came to the brink of war.
It was only after the Pulwama attack that China was forced to support India’s case for declaring JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar a UN-designated global terrorist.
Meanwhile, the government, according to a senior ministry of home affairs official, has expressed its unhappiness over forensic experts taking so much time in finalising the report in such a sensitive case.
Discussions are already underway in the government to reform the country’s forensic laboratories, which are swamped by samples in thousands of criminal cases even as they cope with a massive shortage of equipment.
The NIA has arrested several JeM cadres and overground workers (OGWs) over the last four months while the mastermind – Mudassir Khan and others involved, Khalid, and Sajjad Bhat, were killed in encounters with the security forces.
Khan was directly in contact with JeM leadership in Pakistan for the planning and execution of the attack.