Bring The Body, Then Pension : Defence Accounts To Mother Of Soldier Who Died On Duty
April 2nd, 2018
Image Credit: Indian Express
The mother of a soldier who died after falling into the river, while he was patrolling the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has been told that till the dead body is not found, the pensionary benefits will not be released. This shocking treatment meted out to the soldier’s mother comes even after the soldier is declared “presumably dead” and a “battle casualty”. The accounts office said that the pension will not be granted since he was “missing” and not “dead.
A notice of motion has been issued by the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal comprising of Justice MS Chauhan and Lt Gen Munish Sibal, after the soldier’s mother, Kamala Devi filed a petition.
Pension denied to parents of a soldier who was declared dead by the Army
In November 2009, Rifleman Rinku Ram of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles slipped into the river, while he was on an operational patrolling duty of the dangerous terrains on the LAC. Retrieval of the body from such areas is impossible owing to its nature.
The military and the executive authorities declared the death to be a battle casualty since as per rules, deaths due to drowning, avalanches, floods etc in operational areas are treated as battle casualties. Army also issued a death certificate after declaring him dead.
Since 2009, Rinku Ram’s parents have been made to go post to pillar to avail the pensionary benefits. When the papers were sent to the office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) in Allahabad for releasing pension. The office rejected the claims saying that the soldier cannot be treated as “dead” since the dead body has not been recovered and that he was still “missing”.
Repeated requests from even the serving Generals of the Army fell on deaf ears as the accountants maintained their stance that the ordinary family pension could not be released to the mother since father was a pensioner himself and they were not eligible for the liberalized family pension since the soldier was missing, not dead. Despite several requests, the ex-gratia lump sum compensation which is granted to all deaths in the course of the performance of duties was not released.
A lawyer, speaking on this issue, told The Indian Express, “There are numerous cases that are rejected by Defence Accounts Department due to a hyper-technical and negative interpretation of beneficial rules even after being sanctioned by executive authorities and being covered by judicial dicta.”
It is an absolute shame that the concerned authority is adding on to the sorrows of the already shaken parents of the Rifleman Rinku Ram. It has been nine years since the death of the soldier and even now the mother is struggling to get the pension granted. The Logical Indian community hopes that the pension is released to the parents, which is the least the country can do for the soldier who has lost his life on duty.
Read more at The Indian Express