Ex-serviceman files RTI plea over ‘one rank one pension’ issue

February 9th, 2009 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Disillusioned with the system, a former naval officer Monday filed an application under Right to Information (RTI) Act asking the government on what basis was the demand for ‘one rank one pension’ overlooked.

“In 2008, the defence minister in a written reply to a question told parliament that the government has not found acceptable the demand of ex-servicemen for one rank one pension. Through RTI Act, I want to get the details as to how the government reached the decision,” Commodore (retired) Lokesh K. Batra told IANS.

“I want to know the replies of the senior officials of Indian forces on the question. I also want to inspect the files concerned with the said parliament ‘question’ and follow-up actions taken,” Batra said.

More than 300 retired soldiers of varying ranks Sunday marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan and returned medals won in combat and for distinguished service as they sought equal pension for each rank. Earlier in the day, they had gathered at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of New delhi to protest, which some even termed as a black day for the Indian armed forces.

President Pratibha Patil did not personally receive the medals, which were collected by some of her officials. The soldiers, who also included three-star generals, marched under the banner of the Indian Ex-servicemen’s Movement (IEM).

The main demand of the protesters is that irrespective of the date on which a soldier retires, he or she should get the same pension.

An army sepoy who retired before 1996 gets a monthly pension of Rs.3,670. But one who retired between 1996 and December 2005 gets Rs.4,680. A sepoy who retired after January 2006 gets Rs.8,700.

Effectively then, an army havildar, who retired earlier, gets pension money that is less than that of a sepoy retiring after January 2006 though the havildar enjoys a higher rank. The mismatch applies to all ranks.

“Most IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers, judges, governors, MPs and even the president enjoy this right (of one rank one pension),” pointed out one retired soldier.

The government has rejected the ‘one rank one pension’ demand, saying that it will entail huge financial costs.

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