Rajya Sabha

August 11, 2014

Derek O’Brien speaks on the pension claims of disabled soldiers | Transcript

Sir, I normally lay it, but I want to read this. Sir, it is a cause for alarm that 90 per cent of the Ministry of Defence cases pending in courts are against pension claims of its own disabled soldiers. The Ministry has been denying pension claims of soldiers on shallow pretexts like the disability occurred in peaceful conditions and not in an active war zone.

Military Boards have also been rejecting diseases such as neurosis and schizophrenia for being ‘constitutional’ in nature and not aggravated by service conditions. In contrast, pension claims for such diseases are routinely allowed by medical boards of the Central Armed Police Forces under the Home Ministry. Even though the Supreme Court has rendered a series of judgments in favour of the soldiers’ claims, the Ministry of Defence has continued to file appeals against claims at all stages.

While the Income Tax Department does not go to the Supreme Court unless the amount involved is more than Rs 25 lakh, the Ministry of Defence has often gone there for paltry sums like even a few thousand rupees. Most soldiers cannot afford the costs of protracted litigation and are forced to abandon their claims.

It is shameful that taxpayers’ money is being used to field top lawyers and pay exorbitant legal fees in an attempt to deny our brave soldiers their rightful dues. I strongly urge the Government to ensure that bureaucratic hurdles in the release of pensions are removed at the earliest. The Ministry must cease filing frivolous appeals and grant our soldiers the respect they deserve.

Thank you, Sir.