Release pension claims of disabled soldiers: Trinamool MP

Written by PTI | Kolkata | Updated: Aug 11 2014, 02:47am hrs
Trinamool Congress MP and party spokesperson Derek O'Brien has appealed to the Ministry of Defence to grant pension claims of disabled soldiers.

"It is shameful that tax payers' money is being used to field top lawyers and pay exorbitant legal fees in an attempt to deny our soldiers their rightful dues. I strongly urge the government to ensure that bureaucratic hurdles in the release of pensions are removed at the earliest," Derek said in a statement.

He said it was a cause for alarm that 90 per cent of the Ministry of Defence's cases pending in courts were 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," Derek said, adding that most soldiers cannot afford the costs of protracted litigation and were forced to abandon their claims.

"The Ministry must cease filing frivolous appeals and grant our soldiers the respect they deserve," the MP said.

Military boards have also been rejecting diseases such as neurosis and schizophrenia for being 'constitutional' in nature and not aggravated by service conditions, he said, adding that in contrast, pension claims for such diseases are routinely allowed by medical boards of Central Armed Police Forces under the Home Ministry.

"Even though the Supreme Court has rendered a series of judgements in favour of the soldiers' claims, the Ministry of Defence has continued to file appeals against claims at all stages," Derek said.

While the Income Tax Department does not go to the Supreme Court till the amount involved is more than Rs 25 lakh, the Ministry of Defence has been dragging wounded soldiers to the Supreme Court for amounts as small as a few thousand rupees, he said.